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William Bartram

William Beckford

F. Bernier

James Bruce

Thomas Burnet

William Collins


Athanasius Kircher

Jerome Lobo

Thomas Maurice

John Milton


Samuel Purchas

Major James Rennell




Mary Wollstonecraft


Here are texts that Lowes believed may have influenced Coleridge as he dreamed and recorded his poem.

You can browse through all the passages from a particular author, to get a feeling for what Coleridge read, in the months before he wrote Kubla Khan.

And when you want to explore a particular text, you can read

  • An introduction, describing the author, the book or poem that Coleridge may have read, and a general description of the possible influence
  • The author's original text
  • Words that Coleridge may have recalled from that passage
  • The lines that those words appear in
  • Other possible sources for the same idea.

Lowes argues that Coleridge read almost all of these authors.  (A few authors are just "possible"). 

Lowes cites Coleridge's notes from the period just before the poem, when Coleridge was consciously looking for imagery for a projected set of hymns to the sun and moon.  He was reading travel literature, and soaking up the images--and the language.

Lowes argues that Coleridge's had a preternaturally visual imagination.  When Coleridge read a striking passage, he could immerse himself in the scene, and everything was vividly present to him.  Lowes argues that this ability to experience the scene as if he were there meant that Coleridge could remember the images. 

But more, when he read a similar passage in his quest for material for his poetry, his active imagination could conflate the two scenes, merging them in an act of association, linking the images.

Along with the pictures came the words, according to Lowes. To look at the way a particular text may have  passed along its words and images, so that they reappeared, transformed, in the poem, we explore these sources by clicking around.

The association between a series of images, and the words describing them, are subjective links, then. 

In Lowes' description, and in Nelson's interpretation of Lowes, Coleridge's imagination created a chain of associative links, expressed in the magical poem. 

But the poem is a network with images at its nodes--not a sequence of thoughts, proceeding in a straight line.

As interpreted by Lowes and Nelson, then, Coleridge's imagination was alive with links like those we use everyday on the Web. Today, the Web enables us to jump from one idea to another, following a series of associations as far as we want. More than 200 years ago, Coleridge's dreaming mind held a similar web of linked images and thoughts--recorded, partially, in Kubla Khan.

Other Perspectives

Kubla Khan--The Poem






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