The Sister Arts - British Gardening, Painting, & Poetry (1700-1832)
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Sublime > Intro

Edmund Burke’s “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful” (1758) spends much more time defining the Sublime than the Beautiful. Burke and all those eighteenth-century artists he influenced considered the Sublime a much more important aesthetic category and effect. The Sublime, Burke said, is a pleasure that arises, paradoxically, from pain or fear: “The passions which belong to self-preservation, turn on pain and danger; they are simply painful when their causes immediately affect us; they are delightful when we have an idea of pain and danger, without being actually in such circumstances…Whatever excites this delight, I call sublime.” Being terrified or overwhelmed, or having an experience of awe or transcendence, are all experiences of the Sublime.


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