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Synopsis

Often labelled as ‘indescribable’, the sublime is a term that has been debated for centuries amongst writers, artists, philosophers and theorists. Usually related to ideas of the great, the awe-inspiring and the overpowering, the sublime has become a complex yet crucial concept in many disciplines. Offering historical overviews and explanations, Philip Shaw looks at:

  • the legacy of the earliest, classical theories of the sublime through the romantic to the postmodern and avant-garde sublimity
  • the major theorists of the sublime such as Kant, Burke, Lyotard, Derrida, Lacan and Zizek, offering critical introductions to each
  • the significance of the concept through a range of literary readings including the Old and New testaments, Homer, Milton and writing from the romantic era
  • how the concept of the sublime has affected other art forms such as painting and film, from abstract expressionism to David Lynch’s neo-noir.

This remarkably clear study of what is, in essence, a term which evades definition, is essential reading for students of literature, critical and cultural theory.

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