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date: 17 August 2019

Burke, Edmund locked

(b Dublin, Jan 12, 1729; d Beaconsfield, Bucks, July 9, 1797).
  • David Rodgers
  •  and Lin Barton

Extract

(b Dublin, Jan 12, 1729; d Beaconsfield, Bucks, July 9, 1797).

British statesman, philosopher and writer. Following studies at Trinity College, Dublin, he enrolled in 1750 at the Middle Temple, London, but soon abandoned the study of law and devoted the rest of his life to politics and writing. In 1765 he became MP for Wendover, and his eloquence and ability enabled him to rise rapidly in the Whig party; his political writings were widely admired. In 1756 he published, anonymously, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful. The major influence on writers on taste during the 18th century was Longinus’ Greek treatise On the Sublime (1st century ad). Longinus defined the Sublime as differing from beauty, and invoking more intense emotions by vastness, a quality that inspires awe. The term came into general use in the 18th century and was used particularly in relation to landscape painting, the works of Salvator Rosa being considered the foremost examples among the Old Masters. The Sublime was discussed by, among others, Jonathan Richardson sr, the Abbé Jean-Baptiste Dubos and John Baillie. Burke was the first to examine and substantiate the link between terror and the Sublime; he also drew a distinction between beauty and the Sublime (for a fuller discussion ...

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