This essay examines two poems depicting human anguish in order to explore a current in Romantic thought that implicitly yields some original and compelling insights regarding the problematic relationship between art and suffering. The focus is primarily on Wordsworth's narrative of Margaret's suffering in The Excursion, then more briefly on Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. In both cases Kant's ideas about the sublime provide us with a useful perspective from which to understand the issues these poems raise.
Givens, Terryl, and Anthony Russell. “Romantic Agonies: Human Suffering and the Ethical Sublime.” In Romanticism Across the Disciplines, edited by Larry Peer, 231-253. Lanham: University Press of America, 1998.
Copyright © 1998, University Press of America. This book chapter first appeared in Romanticism Across the Disciplines, Terryl Givens and Anthony Russel, edited by Larry Peer, 231-253, Lanham: University Press of America, 1998.
Romantic Agonies: Human Suffering and the Ethical Sublime by/edited by Terryl Givens and Anthony Russell/Larry Perr, 1998, reproduced by permission of Rowman & Littlefield.
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