Suspense of Disbelief

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is not only an accomplished poet but also recogznied as the premier aesthetic philosopher of modern English tradition. The scope and influence of his thinking about literature inspired a brilliant generation of writers. But he also is the person who originated the expression “suspense of disbelief,” used often in the entertainment industry. The term was coined in 1817 by the poet who suggested that a writer should infuse "a semblance of truth" into a fiction so that reader stops judging the implausibility of the story and believes in it, something essential for any kind of storytelling. Here is a poem from Mr. Coleridge that I really appreciate.


Time, Real and Imaginary

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

On the wide level of a mountain's head,
(I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place)
Their pinions, ostrich-like, for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,
A sister and a brother!
This far outstripped the other;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind:
For he, alas! is blind!
O'er rough and smooth with even step he passed,
And knows not whether he be first or last.

Helder Guimaraes