Scholars have debated the term sublime in the field of aesthetics for centuries.
The term, of Latin origin, refers to a to a linguistic, literary or artistic form which expresses noble or elevated feelings and behaviour.
The writing of Burke contained two themes which are particularly important to conceptions of the sublime.
The first was that the sublime should be discussed in terms of its effects upon the perceiver.
For the first time the person who enjoys sublimity became more important than the qualities of the pleasing object.
In his Philosophical Enquiry Burke generates a conception of the sublime in connection with our encounter with nature as well as art.
The sublime now becomes what causes astonishment,"that state of the soul in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror".
In lesser degrees, the sublime produces admiration, reverence and respect.
In greater degrees, the sublime is that which produces terror.
Objectively, we are terrified by the vastness of the ocean; by obscurity, which hides the fu extent of a danger from us; by what is powerful; and by what is infinite.
In relation to art, Burke lists as sources of sublimity: magnitude, for example of a building; difficulty; magnificence and colour, the sublime excludes white, green, yellow, blue, violet and requires sad and fuscous colours like black, brown or deep purple.
The.sublime does neither arise from the pleasure produced by beautiful forms nor from the detached contemplation of the object, but has its roots in the feeling of fear and horror created by what is infinite and terrible.
For example, void, obscurity and silence are sublime. This horrible beauty, identified by Burk, affected the literature of the end of the 18th century.
The taste for obscurity, terror and introspection became the distinguishing feature of the Gothic Novel.