“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Romanticism 14: Kubla Khan (MP3)

1 comment:

Bill Benzon said...

Several years ago I googled "Xanadu" on a whim and came up with millions. I got curious and spent some time investigating. Yes, alot of them were to the Olivia Newton-John song and film (which was, incidentally, Gene Kelly's last screen role), but there were also a lot of softwarish & techno-scientific hits, which I traced back to Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu, which was his 1960s proposal for hypertext. There was also a Japanese women's soccer team, a Manchester swinger's club, and other miscellaneous hits. Anyhow, I wrote that up as a little paper on the Xanadu meme.

Beyond that, "Kubla Khan" was my professional Rubicon. That poem convinced me that extant literary criticism wasn't paying sufficient attention to the texts themselves, for it turns out that, for all the mystical romance about opium and the man from Porlock and such, the poem has an extraordinarily rich and rigorous structure, which I discuss here, and in rather more detail here. It rather seems like a tour of the mind taken from inside that same mind.