SUBLIME AND GOTHIC LITERATURE SUBLIME AND GOTHIC LITERATURE Individual sensibility as an aesthetic standard The official Augustan aesthetic theory stressed the representational aspect of art: imitation of the great writers of antiquity and of the classical precepts.The qualities of objects in relation to art Beauty was a quality that existed not in things themselves but in the mind which contemplated them, and that each mind perceived different things as being beautiful. Burke's sublime In Edmund Burke's treatise, “beautiful” means classical harmony, balance and regularity in form, whereas “sublime” indicates strength, irregularity and fear. The picturesque and the Gothic Gothic literature reveals love for ancient ruins and wild scenery. These elements had been introduced into England by Italian painters especially Salvator Rosa. The influence of Piranesi The figurative artist who influenced English Gothic writers was Giambattista Piranesi. His art was a perfect example of “quell'orror bello che attristando piace”, as the Italian Romantic poet Ippolito Pindemonte well described it. Piranesi's influence was particularly significant for Horace Walpole, the writer who introduced the Gothic into English literature with his novel The Castle of Otranto. EDMUND BURKE (1728-1797) Born in Dublin, Burke was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He then moved to London, where he made a lawyer. In 1766 he was elected to Parliament. Burke's knowledge of politics was extensive and varied being founded on his personal experience. He took an active interest in contemporary events (the American and French Revolutions in particular) and in some crucial political and economical issues that are still relevant today: the Irish question and colonial policy. Burke spoke out against war with all the eloquence he possessed. He was in personal contact with Benjamin Franklin. FEAR AS THE MOST EFFECTIVE SOURCE OF THE SUBLIME Burke's ENQUIRY is divided into clear-cut paragraphs written in a language that is more typical of philosophical or scientific research than of fiction. Burke tries to demonstrate that no emotion is stronger than fear, not even pleasure, and that fear is the true source of the sublime. It follows that fear is stronger than pleasure, then the sublime is stronger than the beautiful. Burke saying that the sublime has a stronger hold on man's imagination.