Article Title

The Sublime as a Response to Terror: A Study of Empiricism and Transcendence in Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s “El monte de las ánimas”

Short Title

The Sublime as a Response to Terror


This paper studies the relationship between 18th century Enlightenment philosophy and 19th century Romantic expression by relating the Burkean and Kantian conceptualizations of the sublime to Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer’s leyenda, “El monte de las ánimas.” Although Burke opts for an empirical approach while Kant takes a transcendental approach, both theories highlight the contradictory philosophical platform of the Enlightenment: individual>society. The shift in focus from the social to the individual is evidenced in 19th century literary production through Bécquer’s treatment of the relationship between the subject and the empirical and metaphysical worlds. In this paper, this relationship is studied through the representations of objects and sounds that are all used to inspire one sensation: terror. These representations convey the menacing aspects of nature, break the boundaries of time and space, and juxtapose reality and unreality. In this way, the analysis suggests that the narrative and descriptive techniques used to represent the terror experienced by the characters aim to inspire a similar effect on the reader, while also indicating that the philosophy of the Enlightenment provides the theoretical underpinnings for Romantic expression in the 19th century.

Keywords/Palabras clave

Bécquer, Burke, Kant, Sublime, Terror, Enlightenment, Romantic expression.

Subject Area/Área temática

19th Century Spanish Literature and 18th Century Enlightenment Philosophy

Publication Date/Fecha de publicación


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