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ELT 48 : 1 2005 laundry lists would undoubtedly be fun. A reader of this book could with some reason look forward to another assemblage of chapters in which Garber stylishly glides through a few more public issues—gun control, gay marriage, abortion. Why can't literature lay claim to these, too, and who better than Garber to show us the way? Meanwhile, the same reader will look in vain for some intimation of literary study considered in terms of its declining enrollments or its loss of tenured positions. Garber takes the high road. Both the assumptions and the protocols of this volume are more in line with those of the convocation of critics convened by Critical Inquiry, which concluded, according to the New York Times, thus: "The latest theory is that theory doesn't matter." Garber herself continues too theoretically nuanced to wholeheartedly agree. But it appears that she wants to believe that theory doesn't matter more than she states, and she certainly wants us to read and write as if theory doesn't matter more than we do. If we didn't, we wouldn't need a Manifesto in the first place. TERRY CAESAR Palo Alto College Pater Essays Lesley Higgins, Carolyn Williams, Laurel Brake, eds. Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire. Greensboro: ELT Press, 2002. xiii + 380 pp. Paperback Original $40.00 DEDICATED TO Billie Andrew Inman, Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire is a fitting tribute to the scholar who transformed all future studies of Pater's life and work. In her unearthing of the intricacies of the Willian Money Hardinge affair, Inman presented the burgeoning field of Pater studies with a man's "anger, pain, and recognition of the circumscribed boundaries within which he would be constrained to live if he were to remain acceptable to polite society." This observation is crucial , here, because it highlights the ways gender and sexuality forever complicate our encounters with literature, art, and philosophy. As James Eli Adams notes in his introduction to the volume, this collection represents the diverse interests of Pater studies, including the development of Pater's career and the reception of his work, as well as his mixing of classicism, politics, and genre; yet, more importantly, the problematics of gender and sexuality inevitably appear in each of these critical arenas and demand to be explicated. More than this, though, is the assertion that, instead of bringing contemporary reading methods to bear on Pater's oeuvre, it is the extraordinariness of Pater himself that 94 book reviews must be brought to bear on contemporary reading methods. Although this argument is most fully articulated in Michael Davis's article, I broach this topic now because it is vital to our understanding of what the collection's editors have termed "transparencies of desire," for the recognition of certain "transparencies"—European painting, Greek sculpture , the ambivalence of critical prose, and the crystallization of the student body—register the enigmas that Pater bequeathed to polite society . In reconsidering Pater's critical profession, Angela Leighton and Laurel Brake make important contributions to our understanding of Pater 's time and place. Leighton notes that, instead of defining the aesthetic in contradistinction to its material manifestations, Pater showed an intense interest in the "conditions" of the extrinsic, and thereby concentrates on that which resists being absorbed—that is, the material relics that merge body and spirit. In this sense, the injunction to experience art for its own sake leaves "no dividing line between the work of art and the swimmingly impressionistic memories it inspires." In like manner , Brake reads Pater's later work as both a passive reaction to and an active revolt against the social implications of the Labouchere Amendment and the discovery of a male brothel on Cleveland Street; but, more significantly, Brake places this passive/active movement within Pater's own struggle to develop a durable, homosocial discourse. As for Pater's reception, Robert Vilain produces a brilliant synopsis of Pater's influence in the German-speaking world. In particular, Vilain counters the claim that Pater's reception was always tinged by Wilde's presence and, instead, alerts the reader to the integral role Pater played in Hugo von Hofmannsthal's critical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 94-97
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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