Sublime Worlds
Early Modern French Literature

Emma Gilby

Legenda (General Series)


7 December 2006  •  170pp

ISBN: 978-1-904350-65-1 (hardback)  •  RRP £80, $110, €95

ISBN: 978-1-315087-56-6 (Taylor & Francis ebook)


Some of the words we read or hear move us: they can seem to anticipate an intimacy with us or to demand a forceful response from us. Writers, always readers and listeners as well, are fascinated by this phenomenon, which became the subject of the classical treatise On the Sublime. Emma Gilby looks at this compelling and complex text in association with the work of Pierre Corneille, Blaise Pascal and Nicolas Boileau. She offers, in each case, close critical readings which spin out into broad questions about the passing of judgement and the gaining of experience. This book gives us new analyses of three major French authors and enables us to rethink questions about sublimity in relation to the early modern period.

Emma Gilby is University Lecturer in French and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.


  • ‘In a book which deals with aspects of a certain literary experience, the presence of Pascal alongside Corneille and Boileau here may at first surprise. The overriding concern with cognition and models of communication, however, vindicates his inclusion, and indeed adds a richness to Gilby's already suggestive study... A sensitive, detailed and compelling treatment, challenging several idées reçues along the way.’ — James Ambrose, Modern Language Review 103.3, July 2008, 851-52 (full text online)
  • ‘Gilby's theory of the sublime as a movement stressing the horizontality of communication rather than the verticality of loftiness offers new insights and adds to earlier work on sublimity by Jules Brody and Marc Fumaroli.’ — C. J. Gossip, New Zealand Journal of French Studies 30.1, 2009, 49-50
  • ‘Gilby’s conception of the sublime is neatly mirrored in her own work, which offers a series of close, nuanced readings that in turn suggest greater insights into the century more generally.’ — unsigned notice, Forum for Modern Language Studies 47.1, January 2011
  • ‘A compelling case for seeing the seventeenth-century French reception of the Longinian sublime as a broader, deeper, and more varied development than is commonly assumed.’ — Richard Scholar, French Studies 65.1, January 2011, 92-93

Bibliography entry:

Gilby, Emma, Sublime Worlds: Early Modern French Literature (Legenda, 2006)

First footnote reference: 35 Emma Gilby, Sublime Worlds: Early Modern French Literature (Legenda, 2006), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 Gilby, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

Gilby, Emma. 2006. Sublime Worlds: Early Modern French Literature (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (Gilby 2006: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 Gilby 2006: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

This Legenda title was first published by Modern Humanities Research Association and Maney Publishing but rights to it are now held by Modern Humanities Research Association and Routledge.

Routledge distributes this title on behalf on Legenda. You can search for it at their site by following this link.

Permanent link to this title: