Academic journal article Wordsworth Circle

Paul Zall: The Cool World of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1972-1984)

Academic journal article Wordsworth Circle

Paul Zall: The Cool World of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1972-1984)

Article excerpt

Introduction

"The Cool World of Samuel Taylor Coleridge" is a collection of thirty essays by Paul Zall (1922-2009) published in The Wordsworth Circle between 1970 and 1984. Professor Paul Zall (Swarthmore College, BA, 1948; Harvard, PhD, 1951) taught at Harvard, Cornell, Oregon, and, while senior editor and engineer at Boeing and at Northrup, at Californian State University, Los Angeles, from 1957 to 1986. In 1957, as Research Scholar at the Huntington Library, while assisting visiting scholars with legendary enthusiasm, and preparing check lists of the Huntington Library holdings, he edited major texts, published essays, reviews, and more than forty-one books, including Elements of Technical Writing which, since 1962, has been the standard text in the field. In Romantic studies, he published a standard edition of Wordsworth's literary criticism (1966), a selection of Coleridge's sonnets (1968), Peter Pindar's satires (1971), with Eric Birdsall, the Cornell edition of Wordsworth's Descriptive Sketches (1984), and landmark studies in learned journals such as the Bulletin of the New York Public Library ("Adam Smith as Literary Critic"; "Wordsworth Edits his Editor"), Modern Language Notes (essays on Wordsworth, Constable, Hazlitt, and Charles Lloyd), PMLA ("Wordsworth and the Copyright Act of 1842" and "Lord Eldon's Censorship"). After thirty years of research on Coleridge as translator of Goethe's Faustus, in characteristic generosity, he "bequeathed," he said, his massive collection to James McKusick, who, ten years later, with Fred Burwick, completed and published it with commentary in (2007). Zall is primarily known, however, for his work on early American political figures, Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin, the texts, lives, humor, "wit and wisdom" (as he called one collection),and his major achievement, an edition of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography (1986), followed by associated commentary such as the Twayne Franklin's Autobiography: A Model Life (1989), all while writing the essays for "The Cool World."

Reminiscent of Isaac Disraeli's Curiosities of Literature (1791) and Hazlitt's The Spirit of the Age (1825), Zall's profiles captured the experiences and beliefs of obscure or tangential contemporaries whose lives and energies somehow touched on Coleridge, who were "cool" insofar as they were independent, creative, original, eccentric, adventuresome, unconventional. Collectively they comprised the political, social, cultural, material, and literary contexts of the world in which Coleridge and his contemporaries found their voices. Zall, like the figures in the Cool World, with little recognition, initiated, reflected, and influenced what became the substance of Romantic studies in the '80's and beyond. Into the literary conversation of the 1970's, he introduced forgotten figures, displaced or trivial to some, Holcroft, for example, Poole, Barbauld, and Inchbald. …

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