Edmund Burke's Aesthetic Ideology: Language, Gender and Political Economy in Revolution (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)
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This study develops a detailed reading of the interrelations between aesthetics, ideology, language, gender and political economy in two highly influential works by Edmund Burke: his Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful (1757), and the Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790). Tom Furniss's close attention to the rhetorical labyrinths of these texts is combined with an attempt to locate them within the larger discursive networks of the period, including texts by Locke, Hume and Smith. This process reveals that Burke's contradictions and inconsistencies are symptomatic of a strenuous engagement with the ideological problems endemic to the period. Burke's dilemma in this respect makes the Reflections an audacious compromise which simultaneously defends the ancien régime, contributes towards the articulation of radical thought, and makes possible the revolution which we call English Romanticism.
(Romantic Sublime, p. 88). But Weiskel's own Freudian interpretation hardly seems radically different from Burke's: 'Terror is the labour of the mind; the sublime, a purgative therapy of the "finer parts", of the imagination' (p. 97).23 In contrast to Weiskel, I want to abandon the suggestion that eighteenth-century discussions of the sublime represent early attempts to account for a human condition which Freud has finally allowed us to theorize properly. Instead, I am considering Burke's
appear in his published works, of the unhappy King and Queen of France. His correspondence shows that his public eulogies of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were far from representing his true opinion . . . Burke's distrust of Marie Antoinette, despite the rhapsody in the Reflections, was profound. He had been touched to know that when the Stripping the queen 161 famous passage about her was read to the Queen she burst into afloodof tears, but he shared the [emigres'] prejudices . . . against
political philosophy and aesthetic theory - thus come to resemble his own representation of the French Revolution's contradictory and incongruous effects. Attempting to deflect the revolutionary urge by contrasting the queen's beauty with the unlicensed terror of the revolutionary mob, Burke's text turns out to be unexpectedly complicit with the exposure of that beauty to that terror. At the same time, Burke exposes himself, or is exposed, as a ridiculous lover of a queen and ideology that are
the French Revolution, however, is that the very possibility of a drastic change registers the unnaturalness of nature by laying bare the fact that the properties of things, as well as the property belonging to any particular group in power, do not necessarily compel assent. ('Legislating the Sublime', pp. 137-8) Given this, I would suggest that if women's 'properties' (their appearance, dress, manners) are found to bear no necessary relation to their 'true nature', then a dizzying chasm opens up
life, and which, by a bland assimilation, incorporated into politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the super-added ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns, and the understanding ratifies, as necessary to cover the defects of our naked shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own