In the history of aesthetics, few concepts have been as powerful and as elusive as the idea of the sublime, the "enthusiastic terror" that can possess us when we behold a mountain or a miracle. In his new book, James Kirwan traces the history of the sublime from its emergence in the eighteenth century to its resurgence in contemporary aesthetics.
Sublimity addresses the nature of the sublime experience itself, and the function that experience has played, and continues to play, within aesthetic discourse. The book both updates and revises existing treatments of the sublime in the eighteenth century, examines its neglected role in the nineteenth century aesthetics, and analyzes the significance of the modifications the concept has undergone in order to serve the interests of contemporary aesthetics. The book thus offers the most comprehensive coverage of the history of the sublime available.
With its appeal for readers in aesthetics, art history, religion, and literary theory, Sublimity will be of wide use to students and scholars.
"brave and perverse, radical and reactionary ...Kirwan's book is full of fresh ideas and wonderful writing."