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Preface Walter Pater deserves better than he has received. Although his critical position has not been an enviable one in the first half of the twentieth century, he has never failed to be a point of reference for artists themselves-for Joyce and Yeats, in particular. And his impact on critical thinking has been a powerful one. The art criticism of Kenneth Clark is an example. One of the reasons for Pater's eclipse is his style. To New Critics who demanded precision and to neoChristians who demanded commitment, Pater seemed most unsatisfactory. He evades decision and casts his philosophical net wide. His points emerge, not from the epigrams of his disciple Wilde, but from complex and elaborately balanced paragraphs, skillfully built up from carefully selected example and modulated repetition. The present study does not attempt to set a precise critical valuation upon Pater's work, but it does try to see some of his individual works in the context of his whole achievement and to suggest some of the complex ideas which Pater tries to realize through his prosehis understanding of "modernity" and relativism; his philosophy of art as a defence against the transiency of life and as a vehicle for the preservation and transmission of the human image; his vision of a many-sided life centered around the highest product of its culture, often the cathedral; and the moulding of his thought into fictional form, Marius the Epicurean, his finest achievement. ix Preface This volume began as a doctoral dissertation. I have worked on it for two years since it served its original purpose and hope I have purged it of some of the stylistic and structural deficiencies of the genre. Since, as noted above, Pater conveys his meaning in paragraphs and not in sentences, I have quoted liberally, trying to give enough of relevant passages to suggest the context. I owe most thanks to Robert Langbaum, who patiently saw this work through its days as a dissertation, and to John Sparrow, who has made many helpful suggestions about it during later transmogrifications. Neither, needless to say, is at all responsible for its failings. I am also grateful to the United States-United Kingdom Educational Commission for a Fulbright fellowship , enabling me to live in Oxford and complete my work. Others to whom I owe warm thanks include Fredson Bowers, A. K. Davis, Jr., and Russell Hart at the University of Virginia; John Pope-Hennessy and Samuel Wright, both of whom made helpful suggestions regarding materials; Hugh Kenner, whose critical suggestions were helpful at an early stage in the work; Nicky Mariano, who took time to talk to me about Pater's influence on Bernard Berenson; and Megan Lloyd and Jean Baxter, who made valuable suggestions about annotation. And if I omit naming the many friends and family who have assisted with typing, proofreading , and other tasks, I trust they will know who they are and forgive me. ...


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