Translations of the Sublime

The Early Modern Reception and Dissemination of Longinus' Peri Hupsous in Rhetoric, the Visual Arts, Architecture and the Theatre


Contrary to widely held assumptions, the early modern revival of ps-Longinus' On the Sublime did not begin with the adaptation published by Boileau in 1674; it was not connected solely with the Greek editions that began to appear from 1554; nor was its impact limited to rhetoric and literature. Manuscript copies began to circulate in Quattrocento Italy, but very few have been studied. Neither have the ways the sublime was used, in rhetoric and literature, but also in the arts, architecture and the theatre been studied in any systematic way. The present volume is a first attempt to chart the early modern translations of Peri hupsous, both in the literal sense of the history of its dissemination by means of editions, versions and translations in Latin and vernacular languages, but also in the figurative sense of its uses and transformations in the visual arts in the period from the first early modern editions of Longinus until its popularization by Boileau.

Contributors include Francis Goyet, Hana Gründler, Lydia Hamlett, Sigrid de Jong, Helen Langdon, Bram Van Oostveldt, Eugenio Refini, Paul Smith, and Dietmar Till.

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Caroline van Eck is Professor of architectural history and theory at Leiden University. Recent publications include Classical Rhetoric and the Arts in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge 2007); Inigo Jones Reconstructs Stonehenge: Architectural History between Memory and Narration (Amsterdam: Architectura & Natura Press 2009) and ‘Living Statues: Living Presence Response, Agency and the Sublime’, Art History (2010) vol. 33/4, pp. 642-660.

Stijn Bussels is Lecturer in Theatre Studies at the University of Groningen. His monograph The Antwerp Entry of 1549: Rhetoric, Performance and Power in the Early Modern Netherlands will be published in 2011 by Rodopi in the Ludus-series. Together with Caroline van Eck he has edited a special issue of Art History on the relations between the arts and the theatre in early modern Europe: ‘Theatricality and the Early Modern Visual Arts’, in: Art History, March 2010, vol. 33, nr. 2.

Maarten Delbeke is Associate Professor at the department of Architecture and Urban Planning of Ghent University. Currently he leads the project The Quest for the Legitimacy of Architecture in Europe 1750-1850 at Leiden University, funded by a Vidi-grant from the Dutch Science Foundation (N.W.O.). With Evonne Levy and Steven Ostrow he has edited Bernini’s Biographies. Critical Essays (Penn State UP, 2006) and his monograph Sforza Pallavicino and Art Theory in Bernini’s Rome is forthcoming with As
‘’This stimulating collection of essays […] uncovers previously unexplored roles that Longinus’s Peri Hupsous played throughout the early modern period.’’
Matthew L. Simpson, University of Connecticut. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 66, No. 4, Winter 2013, p. 1408.

List of Illustrations

Caroline van Eck, Stijn Bussels, Maarten Delbeke: Introduction


Francis Goyet, The Meaning of apostrophè in Longinus’ On the sublime (16, 2)

Eugenio Refini, Longinus and Poetic Imagination in Late Renaissance Literary Theory

Dietmar Till, The Sublime and the Bible: Ps-Longinus, Protestant Dogmatics, and the ‘Sublime Style’

Paul Smith, A l’aune du sublime : autour du « Parallèle de Corneille et Racine » (1688) de La Bruyère


Hana Gründler, Orrore, terrore, timore. Vasari und das Erhabene

Maarten Delbeke, Elevated Twins and the Vicious Sublime. Gianlorenzo Bernini and Louis XIV

Stijn Bussels and Bram Van Oostveldt, “One never sees monsters without experiencing emotion”. Le merveilleux and the Sublime in Theories on French Performing Arts (1650-1750)

Helen Langdon, The Demosthenes of Painting. Salvator Rosa and the 17th-century Sublime

Lydia Hamlett, The Longinian Sublime, Effect and Affect in ‘Baroque’ British Visual Culture

Caroline van Eck, Figuring the Sublime in English Church Architecture 1640 – 1730
Sigrid de Jong, Paradoxical Encounters. Eighteenth-Century Architectural Experiences and the Sublime

Notes on Contributors

All those interested in the history of early modern art, architecture and theatre; classicists; historians of early modern literature
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