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The Hurt(ful) BodyPerforming and Beholding Pain, 1600-1800$
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Tomas Macsotay, Cornelis van der Haven, and Karel Vanhaesebrouck

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781784995164

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784995164.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

Wounding realities and ‘painful excitements’: real sympathy, the imitation of suffering and the visual arts after Burke’s sublime

Wounding realities and ‘painful excitements’: real sympathy, the imitation of suffering and the visual arts after Burke’s sublime

Chapter:
(p.170) 7 Wounding realities and ‘painful excitements’: real sympathy, the imitation of suffering and the visual arts after Burke’s sublime
Source:
The Hurt(ful) Body
Author(s):

Aris Sarafianos

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781784995164.003.0008

This chapter shows the vital role of injury and suffering in redefining art practices and aesthetic experience from the 1750s onwards. It investigates the role of Burke’s sublime in the introduction of a new lust for pain, which was combined with an equally painful call for the amplification of visual experiences – real and imitated. Sarafianos stresses Burke’s uncivil redefinition of sympathy as a painful delight in the suffering of others, and argues that, despite established anti-visual interpretations of Burke’s sub lime, such extreme forms of suffering are at the root of the way in which his Philosophical Enquiry (1757) built powerful continuities between ‘real sympathy’ and the reality of imitations in painting or theatre. Moreover, this chapter demonstrates that the same principles led to the reorganisation of the entire visual field: bodies in pain, painstaking styles of representation and hurtful habits of seeing were tied up in ways that determined the bursting forth of a specially modern kind of realism. Sarafianos uses Sir Charles Bell’s gruesome surgical sketches from Waterloo (1815) in order to show that the same tangle of hurtful experiences, tailored on Burke’s precise guidelines, encapsulated drives and aspirations for a ‘sublime real’ with a long career in modern art and criticism.

Keywords:   Sympathy; Physiology; Realism; Affect; Politeness; Charles Bell; Edmund Burke; the Sublime; Visual Arts

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