Paul Foot

A Hooded Eagle Among Blinking Owls

Coleridge: Early Visions

By Richard Holmes

Hodder and Stoughton 320pp £16.95 order from our bookshop

I confess I started this book in an uneasy temper. Richard Holmes’s first major work, his 1974 biography of Shelley, had a more profound effect on me than anything I have ever read except Shelley himself, to whom, anyway, I was led by Richard Holmes. Though it merged my revolutionary opinions with Shelley’s majestic poetry, Holmes’s Shelley: The Pursuit was not a dogmatic book. Christopher Booker, whose political opinions have grown steadily more reactionary, also enjoyed it. It was a biography of such devoted and loving care that it was difficult to see how Richard Holmes, who published this book when he was 29 years old, could possibly move forward from it.

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