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Ecology, Nature and Sublime

Authors
전세재
Issue Date
Jun-2010
Publisher
한국18세기영문학회
Keywords
sublime; James Thomson; Longinus; Edmund Burke; Edward Young; William Wordsworth; nature; Robert Blair; ecology; sublime; James Thomson; Longinus; Edmund Burke; Edward Young; William Wordsworth; nature; Robert Blair; ecology
Citation
18세기영문학, v.7, no.1, pp.139 - 161
Journal Title
18세기영문학
Volume
7
Number
1
Start Page
139
End Page
161
URI
https://scholarworks.sookmyung.ac.kr/handle/2020.sw.sookmyung/7305
ISSN
1976-0930
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to examine the ecological implications of the sublime popularized in the eighteenth century. The eighteenth century is conventionally thought of as the epoch of light—the enlightenment, led by what the French called their lumiere—Edmund Burke sets himself up as the priest of obscurity, of darkness. And the quest for the sublime takes one right over the top. The eighteenth century desire to delve into the aesthetic classification and origin enlightens a once benighted text, Longinus’ Peri Hypsous. If Longinus sublime is more centered on the elevated notion of sublimity and Dennis highlights the conception of the terrible sublime, the syntheses of both traditions are found in Edmund Burke’s conceptualization of the sublime. If Burke advances Dennis’s notion of the terrible sublime in nature, he also comprehends it in a way that is very different from Dennis’s understanding. Relying partly on Burke’s earlier formulation, Kantian sublime is oriented towards the dynamics of cognitive process. Nature in Longinus and Burke is perfunctory in the sense that the spectator can simulate the sense of sublime without the existence of the natural elements to be exact. Natural sublime could work to empty out the self and what is replaced inside one’s self is the sense of awe, fear, and death, not for nature but for the self which is reoriented by the sublime experience. In The Seasons by James Thomson, many passages evoke terror before the sizable and destructive forces of nature. Robert Blair’s death in “The Graves” is threatening and sublime and emphasizes on the universality and immorality of death to everyone, while Edward Young’s death in the magnificent Night Thoughts seems not so eerie or threatening, rather it is more or less highlighting the narcotic quality of death in which death lives into the lives of our presence and even allures and seduces, unlike Blair, us to embrace death as the path to immorality. Wordsworth, however, unlike his predecessors, attempts to translate the sublime moment into the ways in which the spectator can catch a glimpse of something beyond himself. The sublime moments in many of those English landscapes are really not about mountains, rivers and forests. Here what the sublime spectator perceives is the enormous communion between the individual microcosm and the planetary macrocosm of Being. But the process is a reciprocal phenomenon. The physicality and in particular the body of the spectator are intermixed with what the mind forges, and the state it experiences opens up the possibility of the ecological interpretation of the sublime.
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