5 December 2006
COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor (1772-1834). Christabel: Kubla Khan, A Vision; The Pains of Sleep. London: William Bulmer for John Murray, 1816.
8o. Half-title. Original drab wrappers (upper joint splitting, uncut, very minor dust soiling to edges); quarter morocco slipcase.
FIRST EDITION, containing the first printings of three of Coleridge's most celebrated poems. As early as 1803, Coleridge was finishing "Christabel" and discussing publication. It was not published until 1816, however, along with Coleridge's visionary "Kubla Kahn" and "The Pains of Sleep."
In October 1815, before leaving England for the continent in 1816, Byron urged Coleridge to publish Christabel and took a manuscript of the poem with him. In the summer of 1816, Mary Shelley, and her step-sister Claire Clairmont lived on Lake Geneva adjacent to Byron's Villa Diodati. Byron, who probably had shown Shelley his copy of Christabel before Shelley read the published work, recited the passage about Geraldine's deformed bosom late one evening when all were gathered at Byron's villa. Upon hearing the lines, Shelley shrieked and ran from the room in fright. Revived by Polidori, Byron's young physician, Shelley recounted hearing of a woman who had eyes for nipples (see James Bieri, Percy Bysshe Shelley, vol. 1, p. 378). This event was one of the nightly sessions with Byron during June 1816 that led to the ghost-writing competition among all those present. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was the most notable work from these evening meetings. Ashley I, p.204; Grolier English 70; Hayward 207; Tinker 693; Wise Coleridge 32.
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