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  • Cited by 26
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
January 2015
Print publication year:
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Book description

This volume offers readers a unique and comprehensive overview of theoretical perspectives on 'the sublime', the singular aesthetic response elicited by phenomena that move viewers by transcending and overwhelming them. The book consists of an editor's introduction and fifteen chapters written from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Part One examines philosophical approaches advanced historically to account for the phenomenon, beginning with Longinus, moving through eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers in Britain, France and Germany and concluding with developments in contemporary continental philosophy. Part Two explores the sublime with respect to particular disciplines and areas of study, including Dutch literature, early modern America, the environment, religion, British Romanticism, the fine arts and architecture. Each chapter is both accessible for non-specialists and offers an original contribution to its respective field of inquiry.


'The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present is a grid of essays on the theory of the sublime and on its realization in nature and art. One informs the other, and I don’t know of another book on the subject as systematic and wide-ranging.'

Ronald Paulson - The Johns Hopkins University

'The Sublime: From Antiquity to the Present collects together an outstanding group of essays that will set the agenda for future studies of the sublime. It presents a superbly informed philosophical history of the category of the sublime from Longinus to postmodernism in the first part, and in the second a richly detailed thematic overview that demonstrates the continuing fascination of the sublime.'

Peter de Bolla - University of Cambridge

'This wide-ranging collection of essays will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in assessing the historical importance of the concept of the sublime and its continuing relevance for contemporary philosophical discussion.'

Frances Ferguson - University of Chicago

'The volume is best regarded as a reference work, suitable for research into specific topics … notable papers included are those of Rodolphe Gasche, Melissa Meritt, Paul Guyer, and Theodore Gracyk … Recommended …'

R. Bonzon Source: Choice

'Those interested in natural theology will find grist for their mill in this volume.'

Simon Vaughan Source: Transpositions (

'The volume is very attractive in appearance. Larger in size than an ordinary scholarly book, printed on magazine-style glossy paper, it features a wealth of illustrations: reproductions of paintings, photos of architectural monuments, and maps of natural sites … it offers a balanced introduction to contemporary discussions related to the notion of the sublime, and would be an excellent text for a survey course, or even a graduate seminar.'

Max Statkiewicz Source: Monatshefte

'Costelloe has put together this wide-ranging book of essays on the sublime in an attempt to demonstrate that the concept is not dead that there is still merit in treating it both theoretically and in its relevance to the present day.'

Cressida Ryan Source: Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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