Beginning with Longinus’s
On the Sublime, this book devotes thirty subsequent chapters to analysing major and minor French critical texts dealing with the concept of the sublime from Boileau’s translation and original «Préface» (1674) to La Harpe’s position in the
Lycée (1799). Authors treated include Rapin, Fénelon, Bouhours, de Piles, Marivaux, Silvain, Rémond de Saint-Mard, Batteux, d’Alembert, Diderot, Mercier, and Falconet. The Appendix offers briefer discussion of a further thirty-two texts, supplementing the main analyses. The Conclusion provides an overview of a number of the aspects of the sublime treated by French critics during the 125-year period.
Essays on the Sublime represents the first comprehensive examination of this body of critical thought.