A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Sublime and Beautiful (Routledge Classics)
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Edited with an introduction and notes by James T. Boulton.
'One of the greatest essays ever written on art.'– The Guardian
Edmund Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful is one of the most important works of aesthetics ever published. Whilst many writers have taken up their pen to write of "the beautiful", Burke’s subject here was the quality he uniquely distinguished as "the sublime"―an all-consuming force beyond beauty that compelled terror as much as rapture in all who beheld it. It was an analysis that would go on to inspire some of the leading thinkers of the age, including Immanuel Kant and Denis Diderot. The Routledge Classics edition presents the authoritative text of the first critical edition of Burke’s essay ever published, including a substantial critical and historical commentary.
Edmund Burke (1729–1797). A politician, philosopher and orator, Burke lived during a turbulent time in world history, which saw revolutions in America and France that inspired his most famous work, Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Nevertheless, some remarks are prophetic. Burke’s contention, for instance, that a poetic description does not require that a series of emotive phrases be linked together after the fashion of a representation in painting (or, one assumes, in prose) points forward to Browning12 and to the practice of modern poets. Again, when he attributes the effect of poetic language to original combinations of ideas, to the power of sympathetic emotion and of suggestion, Burke shows himself aware that such
p. 77. 33On the Sublime (transl. W. Smith), IX. 34S. H. Monk, op. cit., p. 77. (Akenside’sPleasures of Imagination, 1744, is not treated because it adds nothing of importance to Addison’s comments on Greatness.) 35See pp. ii–xliii. 36Op. cit., p. 3. 37Ibid., p. 4. 38Ibid., p. 7. 39Op cit., p. 5. Cf. Longinus, On the Sublime, XXXV. 40Ibid., p. 9. 41Enquiry, pp. 74–5. 42Op. cit., pp. 10–11. 43Ibid., p. 12. 44Enquiry, p. 57. 45Lowth comments on the frequency with which this passage is
Taste (Edinburgh, 1790), p. 410. 11E.g. Analytical Inquiry, II, ii, 44. 12Cf. ibid., I, v, 23. (Knight’s reference to Idler No. 8 is erroneous.) 13Elements of Criticism, I, 197 ff. 14Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1839), p. 52. 15Philosophical Essays, pp. 308–9. 16Essays: on Poetry and Music, as they affect the mind (Edinburgh, 1778), p. 100. 17Ibid., p. 151. 18Cf. Enquiry, pp. 113–15, 121–2, 151. 19Op. cit. (Dublin, 1783), II, 359. 20Ibid., II, 368. 21Ibid., II, 372. Cf.
op. cit., I, 109. 152Ibid., II, 157. 153Ibid., II, 225. 154Ibid., I, 432. 155Works, p. 912. 156Architectural Review (Oct. 1950), p. 216. On this and other Johnsonian references quoted by Grigson see this introduction, pp. xc–xci. 157Enquiry, p. 39. 158Op. cit. (ed. A. L. Baldry, 1922), pp. 11–12. 159Ibid., pp. 16, 17. 160Trenchard Cox, David Cox (1947), p. 78. 161Trenchard Cox, David Cox, Plate II. 162Enquiry, p. 116. 163Treatise, p. 16. 164Trenchard Cox, op. cit., p. 110. 165Op.
confusion wouldb destroy all use, which should be attended to in most of the works of art with the greatest care; besides itc is to be considered, that unless you can produce an appearance of infinity by your disorder, you will have disorder only without magnificence. There are, however, a sort of fireworks, and some other things, that in this way succeed well, and are truly grand.