Glorious Vulgarity develops out of Rita Felski's analysis of Corelli as a writer of the popular sublime, and subsequently draws upon a variety of other critical readings of the popular and the sublime. The Introduction argues that Corelli instinctively develops a feminine sublime as a subset of the popular sublime in her novels. It can be understood as an eclectic reading of experience characterised by the wish to merge with the sublime object of rapture rather than dominate it by reason. The feminine sublime creates a non-rational rhetoric, which signals the subject's failure to communicate experience through reason. It finds expression in the romance genre, which is characterised by a yearning for the metaphysical and a mode of excess. Three individual chapters interpret the three main signifiers of Corelli's feminine sublime, Aesthetics, Love and Religion, and analyse how Corelli manipulates these transcendental themes for a populist context. A subsidiary theme of the book is the proto-modernist element of Corelli's work. Throughout the argument surprising convergences between Corelli's turn-of-the-century populism and the modernist movement emerge.
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