Sunday, June 2, 2013

What does Coleridge mean by 'Willing suspension of disbelief' ?

Willing suspension of disbelief is a formula named as such in English by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge to justify the use of fantastic or non-realistic elements in literature. Coleridge coined the phrase in his Biographia Literaria, published in 1817. Coleridge suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.

The phrase "suspension of disbelief" came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century. It might be used to refer to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those premises. According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is that the audience tacitly agrees to suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment.

The concept of "willing suspension of disbelief" explained how a modern, enlightened audience might continue to enjoy gothic pieces.