Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

read more

Acknowledgments

Carolyn Williams

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

Sections 4, 5, and 6 of Part Three appeared under the title "Typology as Narrative Form" in English Literature in Transition 27:I (1984), n-33. I am grateful to the editor, Robert Langenfeld, for permission to reprint.

Two institutions have materially supported this work. The Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College provided a year's fel­lowship, during which the manuscript was begun, and the community extending from...

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-10

I want to begin with a few words about the subtitle of this book: "Walter Pater's Aesthetic Historicism." The problematic and seemingly contradictory usage of the term "historicism" first alerted me to its great formal and conceptual potential. On the one hand, the term is often used to signal an attempt to know an object (a literary work, for example) by placing it within its contemporary historical context, and in this...

read more

Part One: Opening Conclusions

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 11-13

My choice to begin with the "Conclusion" is not an empty gesture, though it is a familiar and almost traditional opening gesture in discus­sions of Pater's work. My reason has little to do with the fact that the "Conclusion" to the 1873 first edition of Studies in the History of the Renaissance was, and is, Pater's most controversial piece, that it inaugurated the career of public notoriety which he both invited and evaded, and that it established...

read more

1. "That Which Is Without"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 14-18

Although it serves generally to frame the essay in its place at the end of the volume, Pater's epigraph, from the Cratylus, must be under­stood more particularly in relation to what it immediately precedes. Plato characteristically represents the words of Socrates, but in this case Socrates's words themselves quote a fragment of Heraclitus: "Heraclitus somewhere says that all things are moving along and that nothing stands still." Pater gives...

read more

2. "The Inward World of Thought and Feeling"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 18-25

In the objective framework of paragraph one, then, subjectivity is cast in the role of irrelevant illusion, but in paragraph two the tables are turned. There the experience of the individual perceiving self is taken as primary, but the consequences are the same: the object again loses its definition, and the notion of a stable, unified self dissolves as well. Taken together, these opposite and interlocking discourses seem to suggest that "modem thought" in general...

read more

3. Aestheticism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 26-37

Many years later, in writing Marius the Epicurean, Pater attempted to explain more fully the thoughts suggested by his "Conclusion."1 At that point he wrote into Marius's character the "peculiar strength" of having "apprehended," from the very beginning of his career, the possible consequences of "what is termed 'the subjectivity of knowledge'":

That is a consideration, indeed, which lies as an element of weakness, like some admitted fault or flaw, at the very foundation...

read more

4. Answerable Style

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 37-46

How does Pater's aestheticism present itself as an ironic, synthetic, and revisionary discourse? If his aestheticism was meant as a response to modern thought, how might the "style" of the prose (that is, its particular rhetorical strategies) be seen as an "answerable style"? Several features of the Paterian text display the formal strategies of self-consciousness-the rhythms of "impression" and "disengagement," mobility and fixation, experience...

read more

5. Historicism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 46-57

The scandal provoked by Pater's manifesto of aestheticism has been well rehearsed.1 His suppression of the offending "Conclusion" in the second edition, and his eventual reinstatement of it in the third after he had "dealt more fully in Marius the Epicurean with the thoughts suggested by it," seem to testify to Pater's deep concern at the charges against his work. As we shall see, the strategy he develops in Marius to "deal more fully" with the issues...

read more

6. Aesthetic Historicism and "Aesthetic Poetry"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 57-67

When Pater's historicism and his aestheticism intersect, a complex matrix of possible identifications and differences comes into play because the range of relations between the present and the past is articulated against the mobile relation between the self and itself. Pater deals with these complex relations in the same 1868 essay whose last paragraphs eventually became the "Conclusion," the essay now called "Aesthetic Poetry." There he takes...

read more

7. The Poetics of Revival

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 68-78

The representational dynamic of identity, self-division, and recol­lection that characterizes Pater's historical reconstructions is a generalized version of the aesthetic or epistemological dynamic of identifi­cation, disengagement, and retrospection. My reading of Pater's "aesthetic historicism," then, emphasizes this homology between the dialectic of self-consciousness and his strategies for representing history. A sense of objectivity...

read more

Part Two: Figural Strategies in The Renaissance

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 79-82

Pater's volume of Renaissance essays was his first major experi­ment in the "poetics of revival." In that volume he attempts to stage a revival of the historical period preeminently known for its own revival. Pater's choice of period was easily recognized (even at the time) as a subtle but sweeping polemic against Ruskin's "Gothic."1 Pater chose instead to "throw into relief" the age when classical art seemed to bring "the mind of man" back...

read more

1. Legend and Historicity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 82-94

Like Botticelli, Pater was a "visionary" who "lived in a generation of naturalists." He is quite clearly characterizing his own method when he describes Botticelli's:

The genius of which Botticelli is the type usurps the data before it as the exponent of ideas, moods, visions of its own; in this interest it plays fast and loose with those data, rejecting some and isolating others, and always combining...

read more

2. Myths of History: The Last Supper

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 94-102

The word "legend" derives from the Latin legere, "to gather," and behind the Latin lies the Greek legein, "to gather" or "to say," a variant of logos, "speech" or "reason." That its ultimate derivation from the logos has been transformed over the years into "legend"-the name in English of a traditional story whose factual basis is assumed though it has been transfigured during the course of its transmission­is curiously appropriate...

read more

3. The Historicity of Myth

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 103-110

In "Pico Della Mirandola," Pater draws a fundamental distinction between the historical method and the allegorical method. The Renaissance of the fifteenth century was a great age, he says, in part because of what it attempted instead of what it actually achieved. He goes on to argue that much of what it aspired to do was accomplished only in the eighteenth century, "or in our own generation." The particular aspiration Pater has...

read more

4. Myths of History: The Mona Lisa

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 111-123

"Properly told," Pater writes, the story of an "earlier Medusa" has more of the "air of truth" than anything else in the entire legend. This story tells of the young Leonardo painting a wooden shield with a grotesque amalgamation of lizards, snakes, bats, and glowworms, all rendered so true to life that they frightened his father. In calling this the story of the "earlier Medusa," Pater draws a connection between this legendary childhood prank...

read more

5. Types and Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 123-143

In Pater's reading, then, the Mona Lisa embodies the impossible possibility of gathering all the transformations of historical time together in one place. Pater's vehicle for this poetic figure is an image of the human figure, a graphic reminder that his aesthetic is based on the romantic correlation of personal memory and the cultural past. In Pater's scheme of linked levels of generalization in the spiritual his­tory of "the human mind," a persona...

read more

6. Low and High Relief: "Luca Della Robbia"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 143-153

Toward the end of the essay on Winckelmann, Pater shifts his focus to Goethe, moving Goethe's influential predecessor into the background. The "aim of a right criticism," Pater concludes, is "to place Winckelmann in an intellectual perspective of which Goethe is the foreground" (R, 226). Pater's rhetorical strategy accentuates Goethe's relative importance, his "broad" culture as opposed to Winckelmann's intense but narrow...

read more

7. The Senses of Relief

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 153-168

If the early Renaissance low relief is used in "Luca Della Robbia" primarily as a figure for the historical emergence of a modern aesthetic, other versions of the figure proliferate throughout the volume as well. The Luca essay serves to concentrate several valences of the figure in one place and to alert us to its profound importance in the overall argument of Pater's Renaissance. But in order to understand that importance, we must appreciate...

read more

Part Three: Historical Novelty and Marius the Epicurean

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-172

During the composition of Marius the Epicurean, Pater's letters, usually curt and dry, become somewhat more expansive and revealing as he discusses the plan of his ongoing project. Writing in 1884 to Violet Paget ("Vernon Lee"), he praises the success of her essay "The Portrait Art of the Renaissance," but his attention remains on his own endeavors.1 "It is not easy," he protests (and the plaintive emphasis is...

read more

1. The Transparent Hero

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 172-184

In July r 864, Pater read to the Old Mortality the earliest of his essays that now remains to us, the beautiful "Diaphaneitè." He had recently become a Fellow of Brasenose College, and in the next year he would write of the differences between ancient and modern thought in his essay on Coleridge. Three years remained before he published his discussion of the differences between ancient and modern art in...

read more

2. Autobiography of the Zeitgeist

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 184-193

The point has been made many times that the character of Marius the Epicurean is a recognizable mask for Pater's own "epicurean" sensibility. This particular connection of the character of Marius to Pater himself is usually made in order to suggest a palinodic motive for the composition of the novel. In 1877 Pater dropped the "Conclusion" from his second edition of The Renaissance, and when he restored it to the third edition in 1888, three years after...

read more

3. The Transcendental Induction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 193-202

The specular structure of Marius the Epicurean displays personal identity and historical culture as correlative and interlocking developments. Taken together in their specular relation, narrator and protagonist represent the individual self and its generalized projection, its transcendent "other," the overarching Zeitgeist.1 In examining the specular structure of Marius, I have so far concentrated chiefly on the retrospective stance of the narrator...

read more

4. Typology as Narrative Form

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 202-212

At the moment of his death, the central character of Pater's novel remains only passively committed to Christianity, but the novel as a whole is more actively, though ambivalently, engaged. That complex relation, as we have seen in Pater's earlier work, is in no sense a direct embrace of Christianity; but neither is it a full disengagement, for Pater preserves on the level of aesthetic form what he rejects on the level of positive belief. He turns the figures...

read more

5. Typological Ladders

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 213-219

The developmental plot of Marius the Epicurean stresses the analog­ical relationship between Christianity and Marius's childhood "Religion of Numa" in order to show that the essence of paganism survives even after its practices are absorbed and superseded by the early Christian church. In the culture at large, pagan reverence for the earth is transformed into Christian burial of the dead; the pagan sentiment for maternity is fulfilled in devotion...

read more

6. Christian Historicism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 219-224

All Marius's "sensations and ideas" are arranged in these narrative sequences, which I have called typological ladders. Marius climbs, step by step, through earthly embodiments ever closer to spiritual fulfillment. Pater emphasizes this serial structure by multiplying it on every level of the plot. Critics have sometimes missed its organization entirely because of the deeply textured surface of the narrative, the associative procedures of Marius's consciousness...

read more

7. Literary History as "Appreciation"

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 224-234

Pater's novel explores these textual implications of typology and at the same time calls attention to its own status as literary text. Formal manifestations of typological thought become more frequent, more explicit, and more varied in technique as the novel progresses to its typological denouement, the Christian service in Cecilia's house. That crucial chapter, for example, as well as the one before it, is introduced with biblical epigraphs that...

read more

Part Four: "Recovery as Reminiscence": The Greek Studies and Plato and Platonism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 235-238

Pater's volume on Plato collects a series of lectures on the place of Plato in the history of philosophy. The lectures were meant to give the subject a "popular" treatment, and the volume was popular indeed. It was very well received by critics, and Pater counted it as the favorite among all his works.1 Perhaps because they were written as lectures, the essays on Plato display an exceptional crispness and clarity of formulation. In new terms-motion...

read more

1. Histories of Myth: The Greek Studies

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 238-247

Pater's analyses of Greek myths are grounded in the historical sense, though they tend finally toward a myth of history. He begins by emphasizing the absolute historicity of myth, interpreting it as the expression of specific, material practices, which he calls "modes of existence" (GS, 10):

Myth is begotten among a primitive people, as they wondered over the life of the thing their hands helped forward...

read more

2. The House Beautiful and Its Interpreter

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 247-249

Who or what is responsible for the unfolding expressiveness of aesthetic history? One important line of argument in the Greek Stud­ies is devoted to answering this question. In another attempt to formulate the inarticulate, prehistoric ground of development, Pater emphasizes the temporal priority of ritual, or religious "usages," over "conceptions" or stories. Myth emerges from its prehistory to enter its "literary" phase at the moment...

read more

3. The Philosophy of Mythic Form

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 249-258

In Pater's Greek Studies we can clearly see the conceptual struggle within historicism-between historical differentiation and transhis­torical unity, stability, and iteration. On the one hand, Pater claims that myth rises out of specific historical conditions, and yet on the other hand, he claims that it "arose naturally out of the spirit of man." He emphasizes the permanence of mythic conceptions, their presence still within us. They are...

read more

4. The History of Philosophy

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 258-266

Published in 1893, Plato and Platonism was based on the series of lectures Pater delivered at Oxford in 1891-92, close to the end of his life.1 He had been thinking about Plato and the history of Greek philosophy throughout his career,2 and in many ways the volume stands as a summary statement not only of Pater's views on Plato but also (and more important for our present purposes) of his own most habitual argumentative...

read more

5. The Anecdote of the Shell

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 266-270

The nature of the relation between general terms and particular objects of experience, says Pater, is "one of the constant problems of logic," and what Plato's commentators have called his "theory of ideas" is not so much a theory as a way of regarding this relation (PP, 150-51). Pater presents his readers with the three "fixed and formal" answers to this problem-realism, nominalism, and conceptualism. Then, instead of explaining Plato's theory...

read more

6. Dialogue and Dialectic

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 270-277

On the one hand, Pater's interpretation of Platonic dialectic assumes the priority of real dialogue, of an actual conversation between two or more different interlocutors. On the other hand, that reality exists in memory or aspiration-in life, but not in art-and Pater is unusually sensitive to the fact that what we actually have before us is a literary form, the written record or imaginary representation of an experience, not the thing...

read more

7. Paterian Recollection: The Anagogic Mind

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 277-281

The Paterian Plato is constructed as a mythic whole, a figure who synthesizes all philosophies before him and generates all that come afterward. His relation to Socrates serves to emphasize Plato's emergence as a distinct figure against the background of orality or prehistory, and thus Plato/Socrates becomes one of Pater's "two-sided" figures, representing both the mythic manifold and its break into literature and into history. Pater's own...

read more

Afterword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 282-284

This particular "kind of inconsistency" has been the object of my attention throughout the preceding pages. In the short pássage above, the narrator of Marius the Epicurean exposes several characteristically Paterian elaborations of it.1 For example, the spatial metaphorics of imprisonment and "arrest" stand as usual for the retrospective, meta­figural capacity and are ironically opposed to the temporal implica­tions of textuality. (I call this opposition...

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 285-290