UTEL [ History of English | English Composition | Literary Authors | Literary Works | Literary Criticism ]
Glossary [ Main Entries | Key Words | Index of Names ]


Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Organic form:

A term used by Samuel Taylor Coleridge to describe the form that results when imagination -- a superior mental faculty that "dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate" -- generates a work of art. According to Coleridge, organic form "is innate; it shapes as it develops from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form." The development of a poem, then, is seen to be analogous with the growth of a plant, whose evolutionary energy is drawn from within until, finally, it achieves organic unity or perfect form. (See also Mechanic form.)

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
Hypertext and HTML by Christopher Douglas
University of Toronto English Library
Director: Ian Lancashire.
Last modified: March 31, 1997