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'Blake's Material Sublime' / Steven, Vine

Studies in Romanticism, Volume: 41, Issue: 2, Pages: 237 - 257

Swansea University Author: Steven, Vine

Abstract

The essay argues that Blake offers an affirmative version of what Coleridge deplores as the ‘material sublime.’ For Coleridge, the material sublime entails an excess of sense and spectacle over against intellect and reflection. Acknowledging that there is an idealist strain in Blake that promotes id...

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Published in: Studies in Romanticism
Published: 2002
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa17983
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Abstract: The essay argues that Blake offers an affirmative version of what Coleridge deplores as the ‘material sublime.’ For Coleridge, the material sublime entails an excess of sense and spectacle over against intellect and reflection. Acknowledging that there is an idealist strain in Blake that promotes ideality over materiality, the essay contends that Blake’s prophetic books present a sublime that opens materiality up to infinitude. This involves a discovery of the sublime in temporal and historical process rather than the metaphysical. Drawing on Lyotard’s sense of the ‘postmodern’ sublime as an aesthetic of the event, and Jerome McGann’s argument that Blake pursues a poetics of practice rather than Kantian disinterestedness, the essay suggests that Blake locates the sublime in the ‘Particular’ not the ‘General,’ the singular not the abstract. This emerges in the labours of his poet-artist-prophet figure, ‘Los,’ who works relentlessly in time and projects a sublime of historical futurity rather than transcendence.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 2
Start Page: 237
End Page: 257