Mallarme and the Sublime
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In this groundbreaking study, Louis W. Marvick develops a literary criterion for the quality known as "the sublime," considered as the expression of an attitude towards the ideal--an attitude composed of irony and enthusiasm in varying proportions. The author examines the various theories of the sublime and traces the development of the concept from a rhetorical device to an experience of spiritual insight derived from the genius of the artist. The book covers all of the major discussions of the concept, from Longinus, Johnson, Dennis, Burke, and Kant, up to Mallarme. Kant's structural model of the sublime moment is translated into terms suitable for literary analysis. This leads to a meticulous examination of Mallarme's use of the word sublime in his prose writings and the ways in which Mallarme's understanding of the term resembles and diverges from that of his predecessors. This comparative procedure affords an insight into the nature both of Mallarme's literary achievement and of the sublime experience in general.
Louis Wirth Marvick is an Assistant Professor of French at Northern Illinois University.