The Gothic sublime
in William Blake's Gothic imagination
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In ‘The Gothic Sublime’, Claire Colebrook identifies in Blake’s poetry what she calls a ‘Gothic sublime’, one that, unlike the Kantian sublime, destroys the integrity of the rational subject and allows ‘multiple voices and registers to generate what Deleuze (after Leibniz) refers to as “incompossible” worlds’. For her, Blake’s work is ‘overwhelmingly committed to an intuition of the infinite’ and not simply just to thinking the idea of it. Carefully following the Gothic structure of Blake’s worlds, and the nomadic Gothic line that is ever forming and deforming, Colebrook argues that Blake’s Gothic structures relate directly to their content, such as the ‘nightmarish multiplicity of voices’ and refusal of ‘constitutive finitude’. Blake’s Gothic sublime arrives not at the limits of experience (as in Kant), but with expanded perception, with the ‘invasion of reason from elsewhere’.


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