chapter  6
Karen Swann Literary Gentlemen and Lovely Ladies: The Debate on the Character of Christabel
Pages 22

What was so disturbing or exasperating to contemporary readers about Coleridge's Christabel, which Wordsworth struck from Lyrical Ballads (1800) and reviewers berated for the 'degeneracy' it revealed in its author? Christabel's embrace by the mysteriously disfigured Geraldine may explain why critics attacked the poem as licentious, but what does it mean that contemporary discussion of Christabel panned its author as like a woman, as effeminate and hysterical-like his heroine who 'cannot tell' what ails her?