The Menace of the Sublime to the Individual Self in Kant, Schiller and Coleridge and the Disintegration of Identity in Romanticism

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Exploring theories of the sublime from Neoclassicism to the Postmodern, this study questions the widely-accepted view of the sublime as an aesthetics that glorifies the self. It argues that the aesthetics of terror that pervaded 18th and early 19th-century Europe was part of a generic movement toward the dissipation of the unity underwriting conventional concepts of identity. Closely analyzing the divisiveness underlying the sublime in Burke's Enquiry, Kant's third Critique, Schiller's ten years of aesthetic essay, and Coleridge's scattered aesthetic writings, the study moves beyond such leading scholars of the sublime as Thomas Weiskel, Frances Ferguson, Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard, and Neil Hertz, offering a perspective on the sublime that breaks new ground in our understanding of romantic identity and its relation to the postmodern self.


"She has supplemented Kant's discussion of aesthetics and the Sublime as found in the third Critique with a remarkably thorough narrative of issues relating to the supersensible realm which were of interest not only to philosophers but to poets and men of letters as well." - Albert W. J. Harper in Canadian Philosophical Reviews

"Her exposition. . . is lucid, patient, and informative. She handles difficult philosophical concepts adroitly, she does not patronize her reader, but she does provide sufficient in the way of glosses, definitions and explanations for the interested lay person as well as the student of Romanticism to follow the thread of her argument. She provides full notes and a very useful bibliography for any reader who wishes to pursue the subject further. I would recommend this text both for students of romantic philosophy and poetry and also for anyone who has struggled with the issues of personal identity in the late twentieth century. Her accounts of German and English Romantics illuminates not only some of the more problematic passages in Kant, Schiller and Coleridge, but also issues of identity for the contemporary reader." - Helen Dennis

". . . an intriguing, well wrought contribution to scholarship. . . . The scholarly apparatus of the book is a testament to her seriousness as a scholar. I found myself dwelling on some of the longer footnotes, thinking that some of these could be developed into articles or at least notes. The bibliography is beyond reproach. Brooks' book is enjoyable to read and notable for its fresh approach to a highly abstract topic - which she elucidates with a powerful, yet graceful style." - Anne Cheney

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