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William Gilbert and Esoteric RomanticismA Contextual Study and Annotated Edition of 'The Hurricane'$
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Paul Cheshire

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941206

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941206.001.0001

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Esoteric Romanticism

Esoteric Romanticism

(p.219) Chapter Nine Esoteric Romanticism
William Gilbert and Esoteric Romanticism

Paul Cheshire

Liverpool University Press

This chapter views two particular forms of English Romanticism from the perspective of the history of esotericism, as defined by Antoine Faivre. First, Gilbert’s portrayal of Nature in his Bristol poems shows his receptivity to the ‘One Life’ vision propounded by the West Country Romantics. If, as this chapter argues, passages from poems such as ‘Tintern Abbey’ are records of visionary experience, their underlying philosophy belongs within the history of esotericism, which – according to Faivre – prioritises imagination as an ‘organ of the soul’. Second, Coleridge’s unpublished ‘compass of nature’ diagrams from 1814 onwards combine the traditional elements of Gilbert’s Hermetic diagrams with the newly discovered scientific elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. After Coleridge (and the German Nature philosophers who influenced him) the attempt to integrate scientific discoveries and esoteric wisdom has come to be viewed as a subcultural activity.

Keywords:   Antoine Faivre, Compass of Nature, One Life, Imagination

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