From The Lazarus Corporation, Paul Hawkins talks with Michael Stevens about his book, The Road to the Interzone: Reading William S. Burroughs Reading.
Paul Hawkins: This supposition that JL Lowes had regarding his work on Coleridge began to resonate with you Mike and you cover that in your essay The Bladerunner and The Shootist. Tell me about the connection with Burroughs?
Michael Stevens: Well, I discovered Lowes’ book, The Road To Xanadu, several years into my work. Burroughs was a student of Lowes at Harvard and I think it was in a letter to Allen Ginsberg that he mentioned the book. I found it, read it, and realized that what Lowes had done so long ago was what I was doing. I immediately felt a connection to him, and the title, though not the method, is an homage to his book, The Road To Xanadu, which was an investigation into the reading and drug use of Coleridge during his writing of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
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Credit: The middle part of the above collage is taken from the CD cover of Images of Kubla Khan, Copyright ©2009 Richard Hill, who tells us on his website that the “Copyright in the original mandala series of designs for ‘Images from Kubla Khan’ is held by Gabrielle Uncles. The designs were commissioned for the cd sleeve of the American release of the work, narrated by Oscar winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley. They also form the basis of set designs for the ballet concept of ‘Images from Kubla Khan’. The magical world of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s dream fantasy is perfectly reflected in these beautiful and mystical paintings, with their ancient and pagan symbolism.”
Here are a couple of excerpts from the Samuel Taylor Coleridge piece I wrote for Literary Kicks, October 1, 2005:
In Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge demonstrates a perfect blend of reality and fantasy, subtly shifting from the known to the unknown, thereby enabling the reader to suspend disbelief. He carefully studied chronicles of actual sea voyages and used details which would be familiar to readers of that time period. This makes the story all the more convincing when a “skeleton ship” appears, with Death himself on deck, throwing dice for the souls of the 200 sailors, whose fall dead one by one while their spirits whoosh like arrows around the terrified narrator.
. . . Coleridge produced many other works which are not listed in this article, but one effort that cannot be overlooked is Christabel. A supernatural tale of witchery, mystery, dark forests, castles, and, some say, lesbianism, this poem was begun by Coleridge in 1797. Part Two was written in 1800, and the Conclusion to Part Two in 1801. Christabel may be the only work of poetry to undergo extensive analysis before being published, because Coleridge read versions of it aloud at literary gatherings and released limited copies of the unfinished product, which were circulated among his fans.
Author John Polidori (1795-1821) recounted that when Lord Byron read Christabel to him, along with Percy Shelley, and Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley literally screamed when he heard a particularly scary passage . . .Read entire article