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A short guide to the theory of the sublime.

Among the most stimulating contemporary pronouncements on the subject of the sublime is an interpretation of the phenomenon of violence in mass culture that refers to the notion of "the aesthetics of the sublime" (Crowther, Critical Aesthetics 129-30). This can help us to realize how much the meaning of that technical term (the sublime), used nowadays by philosophers, aestheticians, and literary theorists, differs from the meaning usually associated with the sublime and sublime phenomena in the ordinary use of language. Listening to people we can observe that the sublime now frequently means noble and morally positive.

In theoretical reflection a totally different notion is fashionable. In 1984, Jean-Luc Nancy opened his article devoted to the subject as follows: "The sublime is in fashion" (25, see also Crowther, The Kantian Sublime 3). But he added immediately that the fashion is very old. Indeed, if we look at the bibliography of the sublime in English, we can even observe a kind of renaissance: there has been an abundance of theoretical and critical, aesthetic, and general philosophical texts dealing with the sublime since the end of the 70s. (The most important texts are written mainly by Lyotard, but there are other sources relevant here: Rachwal and Slawek, the reader Of the Sublime ed. by Courtine, monographic issues of New Literary History and Studies in Romanticism; Weiskel's Romantic Sublime.) This real "eruption" of academic interest in the English speaking world is accompanied by a revival in other countries. Special issues of literary journals are devoted to the sublime in France, Sweden, and Poland. Antholog ies dealing with the subject are published in France, Netherlands, and Denmark. There is a growing interest in the sublime in Germany and Italy.

In contemporary reflection on the subject, the sublime has many dimensions, not only aesthetic but also ethical (Crowther Critical Aesthetics, The Kantian Sublime; Ferguson "The Nuclear Sublime"); general philosophical and psychological (Sussman, Morris, Weiskel); political (Crowther Critical Aesthetics, Ramazani, Shapiro, Ferguson "The Nuclear Sublime"); linguistic and rhetorical (Holmqvist and Pluciennik); and sociological (Balfe). The sublime may also induce us to think specifically about the political motives of action (Kwiek).

A similar explosion of interest in the sublime can be found in eighteenth-century pre-romantic Britain (see the reader edited by Ashfield and de Bolla, Hipple, Monk). It is impossible here to decide whether "the sublime" and "sublimity" used in the eighteenth century have similar meanings as used today. (For complex histories of the terms, see Wood, Cohn and Miles.) That is why we initially treat the sublime as a kind of literary motif. It is certain that the renaissance of the motif in the 1980s does not make it easy to limit "the sublime" as a term of rhetoric or, generally, of reflection on language. In eighteenth-century aesthetic reflections on the sublime, there are astoundingly different accounts of the subject. It may be said that all three theoretical "arche-texts of the sublime" by Pseudo-Longinos, Burke, and Kant constitute incomparable paradigms of talking about it (see Crowther, Critical Aesthetics 115).

For instance, in Pseudo-Longinos' theory, the sublime has distinct moral implications because it is strongly associated with a kind of normative psychology. On the other hand, Burke's theory is, broadly speaking, directed toward the aesthetics of such situations in which some elements are felt either as painful or as threatening. Still, Kant elaborates his theory in such a way that in his aesthetics the most substantial is a response of reason to the overwhelming excess either of greatness or power. Kant focuses on limitations of imagination when confronted with ideas of reason (cf. Crowther, Critical Aesthetics 115). However, there is something Burke and Kant have in common: they both built their aesthetic theories on the dualism of the beautiful and the sublime. This motif reappears in further reflection on the sublime many times.

Contemporary theoreticians usually comment on the three aforementioned arche-texts, Pseudo-Longinos, Burk, and Kant, often ignoring the fact that the texts are theoretically complex. For instance, when commenting on Burke, they fail to see his associationism and physiologism. While discussing Kant, they frequently happen not to notice his metaphysics. The history of the sublime, as the history of many crucial notions for the humanities, may be seen and understood as a history of misreadings of the past (Nycz 3).

There is something ironic and perverse in the contemporary-postmodern--renaissance of the sublime. The almost two-thousand-year-old world history of the sublime is then full of insinuations, ambiguities, and sudden pauses. Its sources are in the lost treatise by Caecilius of Calakte and a defective response to it by an unidentified author, a response which was accompanied through ages by silence. From the time when the Pseudo-Longinian treatise Peri hypsous came into existence in the first century A.D. until the sixteenth century, when the treatise was published in Basel, European intellectuals were not interested in the sublime. (1) It became popular thanks to Nicholas Boileau's translation (published in 1674), which developed the main thoughts of the treatise, often altering the general ideological meaning of the original. Boileau also published commentaries on Pseudo-Longinos entitled Reflexions Critiques sur Quelques Passages du Rheteur Longin (published in 1694 and 1713). The next milestone in the histor y of the sublime is A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful by Edmund Burke (1756/57). The next great event in the history was Kant's Third Critique, Kritik der Urteilskraft (1790), which contains the crucial Analytic of the Sublime. (Earlier in 1764 Kant published a less influential work devoted to the beautiful and the sublime, Beobachtungen Uber das Gefuhl des Schonen und Erhabenen; cf. Kant Observations, Crowther The Kantian Sublime, Klinger.) in Germany, Kantian ideas were developed by Friedrich Schiller in Ober das Erhabene (first published in 1801) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Vorlesungen uber die A esthetik (1820), while Burke's viewpoint was elaborated in Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (1819) by Artur Schopenhauer. Romantics from all over Europe developed, theoretically and practically, the ideas of the sublime found in the works of their predecessors. On the surface, there was little interest in the sublime in the second half of the nineteent h century. (There is an interpretation of the theories of the French Symbolists, mainly in Malarme, which shows their dependence on the aesthetics of the sublime. Cf. Lokke 427-28.) It seems that in the twentieth century the sublime was incompatible with the spirit of the age, and until the pronouncements of Theodor Adorno (1970) and JeanFrancois Lyotard (1979), who claimed the opposite, there had been no bold and systemic attempts to revive it. Harold Bloom sees the last considerable interpretation of the sublime in Freud's Das Unheimliche (first published in 1919) (Macksey 931).

One of the most crucial problems in the theoretical thought on the sublime is a linguistic problem. It is common in English, Polish, and Swedish to equate qualities such as pathos, nobility, dignity, and gravity with the sublime. This gives the notion of the sublime a special moral dimension, present also in non-colloquial speech, which is theoretically justifiable only to a certain extent in some elements of Pseudo-Longinos' and Kant's theories.

Theoretical problems with the sublime as a research category in linguistics are complicated by the fact that we have only one archetypical text of the sublime--PseudoLonginos' treatise--containing examples taken mainly from literature (broadly understood). But Burke, who even sketches a very interesting theory of language, uses few literary examples. The third grand work of the sublime, Kant's Third Critique, deals mainly with the sublime in nature and, additionally, in architecture. Literature is a marginal reference here. Similarly, the father of the twentieth-century renaissance of the sublime, Lyotard, employs this category as a tool to describe abstract painting. Literature is a secondary concern in his work.

We have more theoretical and terminological complications if we consider the usual tradition of giving the sublime many epithets (Vijay Mishra mentions this tradition and quotes several qualifications; cf. The Gothic Sublime 21). Beside the theoretical varieties of the sublime of Pseudo--Longinos, Burke, Kant, and some literary authors' variations, such as William Wordsworth's sublime or Emily Dickinson's sublime, there are also geographical and national classifications: arctic," "American," "European," "Indian," and "Nordic." We can find qualifications referring to epochs and cultural currents: "medieval," "of the En Enlightenment," "Sentimental," "Romantic," "modern," and "postmodern." We also have broader categorizations of the sublime: "natural," "artificial" as well as "supernatural," "oceanic," "technological," "urban," "industrial," "religious" (it is even possible to find "the Calvinist sublime"), "non-Idealist," "Marxist," "moral," "poetic," and "material." Different kinds of sublime attributed to so me genres seem worth mentioning: the "gothic sublime," the "comic sublime," the "avant-garde sublime," the "apocalyptic sublime," the "wondertale sublime," and the "saga sublime." Besides Kant's "mathematical" and "dynamic" sublimes, we have qualifications such as negative, positive, metaphoric, metonymic, rhetorical, and theological. It should not be surprising to find attributes of the sublime such as trivial, ironic, existential, nihilistic, erotic, feminine, masculine, androgynous, egotistical, hysteric, impersonal, nuclear, textual, perform ative, botanical, angelic, and satanic, or even excremental. Moreover, there are special neologisms, very hard to translate into other languages: sublimicism and sublimicist (see Crowther The Critical Aesthetics: passim).

If we ponder a bit longer on the phenomenon, we should not be astounded by the terminological inventiveness because the sublime is a category that, for aestheticians, is similar to the beautiful, so it must be, as the beautiful is, ubiquitous. One can legitimately ask, however, whether such a capacious theoretical category is still workable in application. In our opinion, the situation is not so hopeless as it might seem to be.

The picture of the situation can be convoluted by the widespread trend to identify the sublime with other aesthetic qualities such as the picturesque (Labbe, Ashfield and de Bolla, Brennan, Hipple), the tragic and pathos (Schiller, Albrecht), or even the ugly and thc grotesque (Nesbitt, Guerlac The Impersonal Sublime). Theoreticians mention such aesthetic and philosophical notions as Benjamin's aura (Lyotard Lessons, Erjavec), the Freudian uncanny (Bloom Freud, Morris, Mishra The Gothic Sublime) or Witkacy's pure form (Zajac). Since Lyotard, the sublime has also been associated with a notion of nostalgia and allusiveness. In the context of the sublime, other notions also appear: shock (Crowther The Critical Aesthetics), suddenness (Bohrer), and the holy (Otto).

Because of the universality of this phenomenon and because of its multifariousness, different approaches to the sublime can be distinguished, although they are not always exclusive. Some of these approaches are the "theo-anthropological" (Otto), "intertextual" (Bloom), "psychoanalytic" (Dainotto, Morris, Hertz, Bloom, Weiskel), "deconstructionist" (Courtine, Silverman and Aylesworth, Derrida, de Man; cf. characteristic features of this approach in Ferguson Solitude and the Sublime), and "postmodernist" (all texts by Lyotard, Rachwat, critical evaluation in Crowther The Critical Aesthetics). There is a discussion of the sublime in new pragmatism (Knapp), in new aestheticism (Ferguson Solitude and the Sublime, Terada), in feminism (Klinger, Freeman, Williams, Yeager, Edelman), in marxism (Jameson, Eagleton), and in "black" (Armstrong). The sublime is also attractive to cognitivists (Tsur) and to suggestion theorists (Cieslikowscy). It seems significant that structuralists were not interested in the sublime (exc ept Wieskel, who combines the structuralist approach with psychoanalysis). The renaissance of the sublime is strictly tied to the revival of the research interest in the problem of emotions in language and literature (Oxenhandler).

The motives of this renaissance are quite a different problem. Conjecturally, pre-Romantics in the eighteenth century saw in the sublime irrationality, a connection which gave them an opportunity to fight the predominant rationalism of the epoch. In a similar manner, postmodernist thinkers of the twentieth century look to the sublime as a great tool in fighting the mimetic theory of language and the positivist ideas of total knowledge treated as the only proper way of mirroring reality (cf. Rorty, Altieri). On the other hand, we can hypothesize that the suggestion has found in the sublime an interesting model of personal relationships in literature, a model which is totally different from the structuralist one.

Miscellaneous approaches to the sublime include those by Blake, Wordsworth, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Mallarme, Freud, and Benjamin, although these authors do not always refer directly to the sublime. The picture is clouded because the sublime can be found, according to some scholars, in theological and religious conceptions of different cultures and epochs. The theme of the sublime might be discovered for instance in the Tao te Ching, in the tradition of Zen Buddism, or in the Revelations of St. Teresa (cf. Sircello). Some philosophers, such as Wittgenstein, are engaged in the theme of presenting the unpresentable.

Finding a starting point for research is not easy for various theoreticians and historians of literature because of the heterogeneity of those literary texts that researchers refer to in the context of the sublime. Romanticism is very popular with scholars, but corpora may also include ancient texts of various cultures such as the Bible, the Mahabharata, or the Iliad, as well as medieval works by Dante or William Langland. Among "sublime" authors one can find William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Tulsidas. In the seventeenth century, John Milton and Thomas Burnet were popular. In the eighteenth century, many authors were regarded as sublime: William Collins, William Cowper, Daniel Defoe, Philip Freneau, William Gilpin, Oliver Goldsmith, Thomas Gray, Aaron Hill, Matthew Gregory Lewis, James Macpherson, Ann Radcliffe, Christopher Smart, James Thomson, Horace Walpole, William Warburton, Edward Young. The nineteenth century is most densely populated with sublime authors: Jane Austen, Charles Baudelaire, William Blake, Charles Brockden Brown, William Cullen Bryant, George Byron, Enrique Gil y Carrasco, Thomas Cole, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, J. Fenimore Cooper, Stephen Crane, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gustave Flaubert, Margaret Fuller, Wolfgang Goethe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Hazlitt, Wictor Hugo, Washington Irving, Anna Jameson, John Keats, Zygmunt Krasinski, de Lautramont, Giacomo Leopardi, Stephane Mallarme, Charles Robert Maturin, Herman Melville, Tadeusz Micinski, Adam Mickiewicz, Francis Parkman, Edgar Allan Poe, Stanislaw Przybyszewski, Aleksander Puszkin, Thomas De Quincey, Artur Rimbaud, John Ruskin, Friedrich Schiller, Walter Scott, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Juliusz Slowacki, Stendhal, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth. Some twentieth-century authors are considered sublime as well: Conrad Aiken, Samuel Beckett, Saul Bellow, Miron Bialoszewski, William Bradford, Andr Breton, Elizabeth Browning, William Seward Burroughs, Jozef Conrad, Hart Crane, Thomas Stearns Eliot, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Edward Morgan Forster, William Gibson, William Golding, Henry James, James Joyce, David Herbert Lawrence, Robert Lowell, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Frank O'Connor, Ezra Pound, Thomas Pynchon, John Crowe Ransom, Salman Rushdie, Bruno Schulz, Wallace Stevens, Andre Suares, Allen Tate, Aleksander Wat, William Butler Yeats.

The catalog of names of authors is far from complete(2). The list, however, illustrates quite well that the category of the sublime is very popular and ubiquitous. It also indicates that we can talk about the sublime in given literary works of art regardless of the author's intentionality.

In the history of the sublime as a term in literary studies, we can observe that it enjoys special popularity among scholars in the eighteenth century. Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Schiller, and Poe, to mention a few, were artists who used the sublime intentionally (cf. for instance Voller about Poe). It can be argued that current Romanticism implies a positive valorization of the sublime. Enthusiasm, ecstasy, imagination, pathos--values and qualities inseparably tied with the sublime--are also irresistibly associated with Romanticism. A similar affinity exists between the gothic and Burke's aesthetics. Taking into consideration all terminological doubts regarding the gothic, we cannot determine which came first: gothic elements in literature or Burke's theory. In this context, some propositions offered by Lyotard are slightly puzzling. He claims that by the time romantic art liberated itself from classical and baroque modes of presentation, the arts had begun to resemble abstract art and minimal art. It follows that avant-gardism has its seed in the Kantian aesthetics of the sublime. So the elaboration of the aesthetics of the sublime by Burke and later by Kant in the dawn of Romanticism makes artistic experiences possible, which will be carried out by the Avant-garde (Lyotard). Indeed, Crowther notices that summarizing Romanticism in the word avant-garde is justified because the word was used for the first time referring to the arts in the 1830s (Crowther, Critical A esthetics 155). Nevertheless, such bold formulas must give rise to several questions. While it is easy to agree that the sublime is to be found in the literary works by Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Mickiewicz, Slowacki, and Krasinski, and even if we agree that the sublime is the main aesthetic feature of the gothic in such works as Lewis' Monk, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, it is difficult to discern thc sublime in the literary works of the twentieth-century avant-garde. On troubles w ith defining the gothic in relation to the sublime, see Williams (12-24) and the introduction to Mishra's The Gothic Sublime.

Lyotard might be right if we look closer at Edmund Burke's theory that language is surprising and forces the reader to rethink his or her natural expectations.
In painting we may represent any fine figure we please; but we never
can give it those enlivening touches which it may receive from words.
To represent an angel in a picture, you can only draw a beautiful young
man winged; but what painting can furnish out any thing so grand as the
addition of one word, the angel of the Lord? It is true, I have here no
clear idea, but these words affect the mind more than the sensible
image did, which is all I contend for.


So the idea of a mysterious affinity between abstraction and the sublime is present already in Burke. Lyotard likes Burke's idea that words have some advantages: they bear emotional associations, they can evoke what is spiritual without referring to what is visible, and we can, by using words, create combinations impossible to make in another way. Lyotard adds that the arts, inspired by the aesthetics of the sublime and looking for powerful effects, can and must neglect imitation of beautiful models and should devote themselves to combinations which are astonishing, unusual, and shocking.

If we believe Kant, the principal effect of the sublime might be rendered as a negative sign of inadequacy of imaginative power in relation to ideas of reason (The Critique 26). A subject wishes to present something that is ultimately unpresentable, though conceptually understood. Lyotard is spellbound by the formula "presenting the unpresentable" and by the idea of negative presentation. He contends several times that the artistic procedures of presenting the fact that there is something unpresentable is very modernist. In modernist painting, he argues, artists want to make clear that there is something conceivable that is absolutely not to be seen and not to be made visible. He ponders how it is possible to make visible that which is impossible to see, and answers the question by referring to Kant, who talked about "formlessness" as a possible indication of the unpresentable. According to Lyotard, Kant discussed abstraction when describing imagination experiencing infinity. Infinity is a negative presentat ion (cf. Lyotard, Lessons 150-53).

Lyotard's reflection can also be applied to literature. In Lyotard's "The Sublime and the Avant-garde," James Joyce's writing serves as a good sample and illustration of the modernist means of presenting the unpresentable. In Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, grammar and lexicon are not treated as gifts of heaven. They are regarded rather as academisms and rituals that come from that kind of piety that makes allusions to the unpresentable impossible. If we agree with Lyotard on that point, abstraction in literature could be made real by the stylization of gabbling. Roman Jakobson and Linda Waugh have already talked about parallelism of abstract painting and experimental futurist poetry (transsense language). So all literary gabbling can be regarded as a way of achieving the sublime (Pluciennik "The Avant-garde Sublime").

In this context, it might be helpful to follow Guy Sircello in differentiating experiences of the sublime, sublime discourse, and talk about the sublime (541). Aestheticians and philosophers are usually concerned with descriptions of experiences of the sublime. In contrast, Pseudo-Longinos was mainly preoccupied with a description of sublime discourse and, on this basis, with the formulation of a rhetoric of the sublime, i.e., a collection of more or less formal rhetorical devices used in sublime discourse. Following Burke, Lyotard would add abstraction and allusiveness, "devices" unforeseen by Pseudo-Longinos. If the problem is expressed in this way, it must be a challenge for all scholars interested in language and literature. Lyotard broadens the scope of some words and embraces too many domains, but his proposal could give us a new tool for portraying the rhetorical category of the sublime.

Assuming after Kant that experience of the sublime is a result of a subjective encounter with something which is absolutely great or absolutely menacing (we treat it here provisionally without getting into the thoughts of Kant), one can theoretically reflect on linguistic means that can be used by a subject who wants either to express the sublime or to evoke the sublime in a receiver. (This dialectic of expression and persuasion is very complex and it deserves a closer investigation.) The subject is confronted with something absolutely great or absolutely menacing and expresses an overwhelming feeling: Aa!!! (an example from Mickiewicz's poetry used by Skwarczyriska in a Polish course-book in literary studies from 1954).

The most basic way of representing the sublime consists in representing sublime objects. Theoreticians and philosophers of the eighteenth century often catalogued those objects, but there is also a linguistic way of representing the sublime--for instance, "Aa!," which conventionally signals a desire to represent something and an avowal of a failure of language.

If we consistently apply Lyotard's reasoning to language, all negation will appeal to the sublime. We can locate such negative linguistic figures of the sublime on all levels of language: morphological, lexical, syntactic, and generic. We can find such negation in many morphological constructions with interior negative affixes. There are also hyperbolic negative constructions, which in our view, code experiences of the sublime (e.g., unbounded, infinite, boundless, limitless, etc.). On the lexical level, we can also point at vulgarisms, which are not often used in literature in this function--to present the unpresentable--but theoretically they can occur in regular language usage. All kinds of mysterious words, glossolalia, and stylization drawing on a strange unfamiliar language can be regarded as a perfect medium to present the unpresentable (cf. Jakobson and Waugh; for a presentation of the difference between onomatopoeic language and sound symbolism, see Cruse 34-35, 46). Of course, the main figures of t he sublime are traditional rhetorical figures, the semantic mechanism of which implies negation, such as the oxymoron and paradox (Otto wrote on the connection between paradox and the sublime in 1923, see also Cieslikowscy) or just hyperbole (the mechanism here is complex), of which personification can be seen as a type. All preteritions, aposiopesis, and silence must be regarded as figures signaling unpresentability. On the syntactic level, we must mention ellipse and running of thoughts. Rhetorical rhythmization also deserves our attention--the power encountered by the subject is so great and overwhelming that the subject is subordinated to the rhythm (Skwarcynska). We can list some genres apt to evoke the sublime: odes, hymns, psalms, benedictions, maledictions, epitaphs, invocations, swearing, puzzles, etc. (cf. Deguy). The aforementioned linguistic means all presuppose an encounter of the subject with something beyond his or her imagination. All the figures of the sublime are more or less conventional, a nd they can occur in literature and outside it.

The sublime allows us to correlate miscellaneous linguistic phenomena and perceive them in a new light. But the most tempting aspect of the sublime is the fact that it seems to embody a very particular theory of language and a whole model of relationships between participants in the process of communication. In this model of language, notions such as identification, imagination, emotions, and communication play the main role.

These figures are rhetorical in the sense that they intend to persuade (Cicero) and in the sense that persuasion applies to actions which change attitudes (Kenneth Burke 49-83). Jahan Ramazani explains the interdisciplinary character of the theory of the sublime:

The sublime is not a genre, and its theorists are happy to emphasize its fluid movement across generic boundaries. Nevertheless, the sublime has an affective structure and a rhetoric--among the qualities that define genre--sand so it might be though of as an extended mode, related in turn to other modes, such as the apocalyptic and the curse. (175)

It can be argued that we can encounter such conventional sublime accessories more often today in films and television. It is a particular paradox if we think about the sublime in Lyotard's manner. But it is obvious that such film genres as horror (stemming from the gothic), catastrophic films, or science-fiction all depend on the aesthetics of the sublime. Also politicians could refer to the experience of the sublime when organising military parades with shows of the newest war technology (Crowther, The Kantian Sublime 165). The rhetoric of the sublime may be very useful in advertising; consider for instance the presence of the sublime American landscape in Marlboro advertisements. Television shows broadcast during the Gulf War were fascinating for people around the world in part because of the technological sublime present in them. The seductiveness of the Internet might also be explained when we take into account the peculiar unpresentablity of cyberspace. Our future book will focus on linguistic means of e xpressing experiences of the sublime and on a model of language and communication presupposed by this stylistic sublime.


We would like to thank anonymous reviewers of Style for their helpful comments on the first version of the article as well as Danuta Stanulewicz for her help in preparing the final version.


(1.) Parallels have been found between Pseudo-Longinian treatise and a Chinese Wen Fu (302 r.) by Lu Chi (Lu Ji). Cf. Macksey 923-24.

(2.) We used here data also from Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature, Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., as in March 1998.

Works Cited

(Because our article is a bibliographical guide to the theory of the sublime we include a select bibliography, and not only a works cited.)

Abrams, Meyer Howard. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. New York: Oxford UP, 1953.

_____. Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature. New York: Norton, 1973.

Albrecht, William Price. The Sublime Pleasures of Tragedy: A Study of Critical Theory from Dennis to Keats. Lawrence: UP Kansas, 1975.

Altieri, Charles. "Plato's Performative Sublime and the Ends of Reading." New Literary History 16.2 (1985): 251-73.

Arac, Jonathan. "The Media of Sublimity: Johnson and Lamb on King Lear." Studies in Romanticism 26.2 (1987): 209-20.

Armstrong, Meg. "'The Effects of Blackness:' Gender, Race, and the Sublime in Aesthetic Theories of Burke and Kant." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 54.3 (1996): 213-36.

Ashfield, Andrew, and Peter de Bolla, eds. The Sublime: A Reader in British Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.

Balfe, Judith Huggins. "Sociology and the Sublime." New Literary History 16.2 (1985): 237-49.

Barakoriska, Liliana, and Ma gorzata Nilka. "A Reading of Distance in the Kantian Sublime." "The Most Sublime Act:" Essays on the Sublime. Ed. Tadeusz Rachwal and Tadeusz Stawek. Katowice: US P, 1994.

Barnouw, Jeffrey. "The Morality of the Sublime: To John Dennis." Comparative Literature 35.1 (1983): 21-42.

Batchelor, Stephen. Verses from the Center: A Buddhist Vision of the Sublime. New York: Riverhead, 2000.

Beidler, Paul G. "The Postmodern Sublime: Kant and Tony Smith's Anecdote of the Cube." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 53.2 (1995): 177-86.

Bernstein, Stephen. "'Libra' and the Historical Sublime." Postmodern Culture: An Electronic Journal of Interdisciplinary Criticism 4.2 (1994) < 4.3

Bialas, Zbigniew. "Multitude of Ecstatic Butterflies: A Glimpse of the Sublime in Kitsch." "The Most Sublime Act:" Essays on the Sublime. Ed. Tadeusz Rachwal and Tadeusz Slawek. Katowice: US P, 1994. 111-19.

Bloom, Harold. Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. London: Oxford UP, 1973.

_____. "Freud and the Poetic Sublime: A Catastrophe Theory of Creativity." Contemporary Critical Theory. Ed. D. Latimer. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1989.

_____. Freud: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. P. Meisel, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall 1981.

_____. Poetry and Repression. New Haven: Yale UP, 1976.

_____. Ruin the Sacred Truths. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1989.

Boileau (-Despreaux), Nicolas. "Traite du Sublime ou du Merveilleux dans le Discours Traduit du Grec de Longin." Oeuvres completes. Introduction par Antoine Adam. Textes etablis et annotes par Francoise Escal, Editions Gallimard, 1966.

Boitani, Piero. The Tragic and the Sublime in Medieval Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.

Boulton, J. T. Introduction. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. By E. Burke. Ed. J. T. Boulton. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958. xv-cx.

Brennan, Matthew. Wordsworth, Turner, and Romantic Landscape: A Study of the Traditions of the Picturesque and the Sublime. Columbia.: Camden House, 1987.

Brody, Jules. Boileau and Longinus. Gencve: Librairie E. Droz, 1958.

Brooks, Linda Marie. The Menace of the Sublime to the Individual Self: Kant, Schiller, Coleridge, and the Disintegration of Romantic Identity. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 1995.

Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Ed. J. T. Boulton. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958.

Burke, Kenneth. Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969.

Carchia, Gianni. Retorica del Sublime. Roma-Bari: Laterza, 1990.

Cascardi, Anthony J. "From the Sublime to the Natural: Romantic Responses to Kant." Literature and the Question of Philosophy. Ed. A. J. Cascardi. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1987. 101-29.

Cieslikowscy, Slawomir, and Teresa Cieslikowscy. "La langage indirect: comprehension et incomprehension." Ed. Slawomir Cieslikowsc and Teresa Cieslikowscy. W kregu genologii i teorii sugestii. Lodz: UL P, 1995. 98-105.

_____. "Sacrum i maska czyli o wypowiadaniu niewypowiedzianego." Slawomir Cieslikowscy and Teresa Cieslikkowscy. W kregu genologii i teorii sugestii. Lodz: UL P, 1995. 106-25.

Coates, Paul. "The Look in the Sky: Notes on Sublimity, Film and Gender." "The Most Sublime Act:" Essays on the Sublime. Ed. Tadeusz Rachwal and Slawek Tadeusz. Katowice: US P, 1994. 136-48.

Cohn, John, and Thomas H. Miles. "The Sublime: In Alchemy, Aesthetics and Psychoanalysis." Modern Philology 74.3 (1977: February): 289-304.

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Kenneth Holmqvist ( is an associate professor at the Department of Cognitive Science, Lund University. He has published over fifty papers in a wide variety of areas where visual attention goes hand in hand with language. He is now the head of the eye tracking laboratory at Lund University.

Jaroslaw Pluciennik ( is an adjunct at the Institute of Theory of Literature, Theater and Audio-Visual Arts at the University of Lodz, Poland. He has published two books: Retoryka wznioslosci w dziele literackim, Krakow 2000 (The Rhetoric of the Sublime in the Literary Work of Art), and Figury niewyobrazalnego Krakow in 2002 (Figures of the Unimaginable). A third book about poetics and empathy is to be published soon.
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