Coleridge’s Orientalist View of Mahomet
AbstractFrom an Orientalist viewpoint, Coleridge and his poems were shaped by the discursive web of the 18th century culture, and he was not free from the worldliness of historical forces. However, it is not difficult to see resistance towards dominant ideologies in his poems. One example is Coleridge’s sentiment towards the systematically-misrepresented Islam and its prophet. Coleridge’s radical interpretation of Islam in the 1790s made him feel the need, with Southey, for a model of moral regeneration after observing European corruption and having lost his radical interest in the millennial politics of the French Revolution. The radical act of composing “Mahomet” signifies Coleridge’s endeavor to change the distorted image of Mahomet and Islam that to him was the beginning of the Unitarian revolution and the symbol of the revolutionary France. However, he perpetuates the prejudice of Christianity’s superiority over Islam as a deviation of the true religion introduced by Christ. Coleridge’s approach is imaginative reconciliation of Christo-Islamic inspirations to offer his political thoughts and avoid identification with English Unitarianism.
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