The sublimity of mountainous terrain has long been a commonplace of both popular culture and writing about aesthetics. Such landscapes — in particular the Alps and the Italian volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna — became a major focus of writing about the sublime during the eighteenth century and romantic period. In Mountain Gloom and Mountain Glory, Marjorie Hope Nicolson suggests that this intense interest in the so–called natural sublime resulted from the gradual transfer of the affective responses traditionally evoked by the idea of God to those natural phenomena which seemed most to partake of and to reflect the attributes of God: the grandeur of the natural sublime, in other words, became a figure for the grandeur of its supposed creator.1 Religious ideas certainly played a significant role in responses to the natural sublime during the period covered by this selection, both in the writings of those whose pious responses to the mountain sublime support Nicolson’;s claim (e.g. Bridges, Glover), and in the work of radical and liberal thinkers (e.g. Rousseau, De Stäel) who formulate the corollary hypothesis: that religious ideas originated in the reaction of primitive cultures to sublime natural phenomena beyond their comprehension.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number