Dickinson's poetry both continues and revises what we have come to call the romantic sublime, a literary mode first effectively theorized by Kant and then practiced in rather diverse forms by a number of English and American writers. The variety, variability, and conceptual elusiveness of the sublime are considerably more evident in literary history than its identity, but for the sake of brevity let me exaggerate the extent to which a distinctly romantic sublime operates according to stable precepts and forms a reasonably coherent poetic tradition. Viewed from the schematic perspective this simplification affords, Dickinson's work perpetuates the romantic sublime or draws upon it in several different ways.



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