Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

First thanks go to Ed Kessler, who, in a persistent attempt to force me to write readable prose, has gone over this manuscript as many times as I have. Asking me about every element of its analysis, he also helped me to clarify what I wanted to say about aestheticism and political discourse. ...

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Introduction The Aestheticism of Deconstruction

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pp. 3-10

It was inevitable that Walter Pater would be deconstructed. Partly it had to happen because any complex author writing on subjects that concern literary theorists would seem to call forth the application of a reading method implied by a new theory. But Pater did not elicit particular attention from the New Critics. ...

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1. What Is Art for Art's Sake and How Could It Be Anything Else?

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pp. 11-41

I ask the question in this chapter's title neither idly nor rhetorically. Misreadings of aestheticism in Pater start with misreadings of this phrase. Only by removing it from its context can critics respond to the phrase with the accusations against aestheticism touched on in the Introduction. ...

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2. Studies in the Histories of The Renaissance

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pp. 42-74

Critics argue that the aestheticist desire to enclose oneself in a hermetically sealed art results in a theoretically flawed attempt to define a pure, transhistorical stance that ignores rather than evades the central causative powers of history and ideology. ...

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3 Deconstruction: Foundations and Literary Language

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pp. 75-121

Walter Pater appears in works of contemporary literary theory mostly in footnotes and asides, where he plays the role of ghostly indicator of troubles to come. Earlier I compared the criticism of Pater with a certain strand of attack upon deconstruction. ...

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4 Deconstructive Aesthetics: Literary Language, History, Ideology

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pp. 122-159

If Pater meant to show how a fully articulated aestheticism worked to provide the forms of social, cultural, and philosophical explanations offered by Ruskin, Arnold, and Hegel, he was clearly not successful. Matthew Arnold's proposal that literature replaced religion by adequately conveying humanistic values ...

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5 Aesthetic Analysis and Political Critique

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pp. 160-189

Pater's aestheticism as a form of cultural critique ended in Wilde's prison cell. The reading I have been offering of his theories has had to counter critical reductions that read them. as espousing a solipsist's flight into an art that functioned in determined opposition to reality. ...

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Afterword Aestheticism, Journalism, and de Man's Wartime Writings

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pp. 190-200

News of Paul de Man's collaborationist journalism and his now notorious anti-Semitic article broke early enough in the writing of this book for an analysis of the issues that discovery raises for my argument, if any, to have been incorporated into the body of my text. ...

Notes

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pp. 201-222

Works Cited

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pp. 223-230

Index

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pp. 231-234