Edmund Burke and Ireland: Aesthetics, Politics and the Colonial Sublime

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Burke's influential early writings on aesthetic are intimately connected to his political concerns according to this study of his engagement with Irish politics and culture. The heart of his aesthetic addressed itself to the experience of terror, a spectre that haunts Burke's political imagination throughout his career. Burke's preoccupation with violence, sympathy and pain actually allowed him to explore the dark side of the Enlightenment. This major reassessment of a key political and cultural figure appeals to Irish studies specialists, political theorists and Romanticists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An exemplary interdisciplinary work in which aesthetics, ideas, and history are mutually activating..." New Hibernia Review

"This new book on Burke, by Luke Gibbons of Notre Dame University, goes a long way towards resolving the apparent contradictions in Burke's life and towards reconciling the ambiguities in his legacy...[A] bracing read and a signal achievement with much that is new to say..." Irish Times

"Gibbons provides a cogent and nuanced account of Burke's particular contribution to theories of sensibility, as well as a compelling examination of the role of sensibility within Enlightenment thought in general and the politics of the eighteenth century, with particular attention to the colonial and assimilatory pressures within the British Isles. Edmund Burke and Ireland is essential reading for anyone grappling with the complexity of Burkean affect and, more broadly, with the stresses and strains between Englightenment thought and eighteenth-century colonial practices." - Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Julia Wright, Wilfrid Laurier University

"This book is altogether engaging, enlightening, and fundamentally correct with respect to a contemporary post-modern application of Burke."
Michael F. Deckard, Catholic University of Leuven

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521810609
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Luke Gibbons is Professor of English, and Film, Theatre and Television at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He has written extensively on Irish literature, the visual arts and popular culture. He is the author of Transformations in Irish Culture (1996) and The Quiet Man (2002), and co-author of Cinema and Ireland (1988).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Edmund Burke and the colonial sublime; Part I. The Politics of Pain: 1. 'This King of Terrors'; Edmund Burke and the aesthetics of executions; 2. Philoctetes and colonial Ireland: the wounded body as national narrative; Part II. Sympathy and the Sublime; 3. The sympathetic sublime: Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and the politics of pain; 4. Did Edmund Burke cause the great Famine? Political economy and colonialism; Part III. Colonialism and Enlightenment: 5. 'Tranquillity tinged with terror': the sublime and agrarian insurgency; 6. Burke and colonialism: the enlightenment and cultural diversity; Part IV. Progress and Primitivism: 7. 'Subtilised into savages': Burke, progress and primitivism; 8. 'The return of the native': The United Irishmen, culture and colonialism.

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