Exploring the Self: A Study of Hazlitt’s My First Acquaintance with Poets

“My First Acquaintance with Poets” was first published in 1823 in a short-lived but a highly significant periodical of the Romantic Age, The Liberal. If we go by the generic distinction this document is primarily an essay based on the reminiscences of the author of the experience he had almost twenty five years back when he met a “poet” for the first time in life, a moment of “baptism”, as he says, in the world of poetry and philosophy (Hazlitt, First Acquaintance). The essay can be taken as a memoir because it moves round a particular incident in the author’s life, i.e., his meeting with Coleridge, the successive interactions they had had in course of getting acquainted with each other in the next few months, the impact of this acquaintance that the author bears in his mind and the inevitable although temporal separation between the two. This whole process of “acquaintance” not only with poet in singular but “poets” took place within the most significant year in the history of English Romanticism, 1798. As a memoir is expected to be, the essay documents a very important part in the author’s life relating to a life changing event and the author’s response to it.In the hierarchy of the genre of life writing memoir comes in the lower order, regarded as a sub genre of autobiography since it involves a lesser degree of seriousness, as Laura Marcus puts it, “the autobiography/memoir distinction–ostensibly formal and generic–is bound up with a typological distinction between those human beings who are capable of self-reflection and those who are not” (p.21). Although if a memoir can be self-reflective or not is a matter debatable, the basic issue is that a memoir is required to be a more truthful and graphic represent…

…wspaper and Magazines”. Romanticism: An Oxford Guide. Ed. Nicholas Roe. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2005. 426-444. PrintDibley, David Jesson. “William Hazlitt”. The Colleridge Bulletin. New Series No 2. Autumn, 1993. 33-46. Web.10 Dec.2013

Hazlitt, William.”Samuel Taylor Coleridge.” The Spirit of the Age: or Contemporary Portraits (1825). 61-79. Web. 9 Feb. 2014_____________“My First Acquaintance with Poets”. n.pag. web 5 Dec. 2013

Marcus, Laura. Auto/biographical Discourses. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994.“Memoir”. From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. n. pag. Web. 13 Dec.2013

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