The University of Wisconsin Press

Photography / Biography

A Sense Sublime
Richard Quinney

“And I have felt / A presence that disturbs me with the joy / Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime.”
—William Wordsworth

A Sense Sublime is a record of a life lived during the last years of the twentieth century on the northern edge of the tallgrass prairies of Illinois, where seas of flowing grasses give way to the glaciated hills of Wisconsin.
With camera in hand, Richard Quinney walked the streets and byways and traveled the country roads. Quinney watched through his viewfinder the rising and passing of all things, giving attention to the wonder of daily existence. He captures the transcendental landscape; land and sky powerfully meld into one. The black and white of shadow on snow explores the light and darkness we know and experience in human existence. Gothic images of weathered homes and barns of long-gone settlers and shaded cemeteries still haunt the landscape, while romantic vistas of clouds majestically drifting over magnificent prairies instill an agrarian sublimity akin to Wordsworth or Thoreau. The photographs, from the end of a century, document the passing of the seasons and the years.

Quinney’s photographs are historical artifacts, framed of portions of the world within his spiritual eye, the camera’s viewfinder. The photos, accompanied with notes from Quinney’s journals, as well as the words of others, are extensions of the long tradition of transcendental writers, romantic poets, and landscape painters. They are Quinney’s own attempt to solve the mystery of human existence and a way to experience the sublime in everyday life. These were the years lived as a camera.

Richard Quinney is the author of several books of autobiographical writing, including Journey to a Far Place, For the Time Being, Borderland, Once Again the Wonder, Where Yet the Sweet Birds Sing, Tales from the Middle Border, A Lifetime Burning, Once Upon an Island, A Farm in Wisconsin, and Ox Herding in Wisconsin. His retrospective book of photographs, Things Once Seen, received the August Derleth Award from the Council of Wisconsin Writers. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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September 2013
LC: 2013900109
196 pp.   6 5/8 x 8 1/4  
60 b/w photos

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Paper $25.00 t
ISBN 978-0-9835174-4-3
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Updated June 4, 2013

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