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Book Reviews, 32:2, 1988 Haggard his due as an "ideological presence, part of his period's [and our period's] popular culture" (4). She thus offers a useful antidote to those who would whitewash him either by treating his racism and warmongering as incidental to a noble idealism of imperial service or by viewing him as a minor, innocuous writer of stirring adventure tales in which the British Empire and unconquered parts of Africa just happen to figure as incidental background. Either way, the cultural significance of Haggard's fiction vanishes; Katz makes it reappear. Patrick Brantlinger _______________________________Indiana University_________________ WALTER PATER Robert and Janice A. Keefe. Walter Pater and the Gods of Disorder. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1988. $24.95 Walter Pater and the Gods of Disorder by Robert and Janice Keefe has a provocative thesis and the concise, vigorous prose makes it a pleasure to read; yet the book is not fully satisfying. While the Keefes raise some important issues and break some new ground in Pater studies, a promising and energetic beginning founders in the end due to problems of both conception and execution. The central argument of this book centers on Pater's Hellenism and the transformation it underwent in the course of his career. The Keefes argue that the tradition of Hellenism Pater inherited from Winckelmann through Ruskin and Arnold was a form of strident Apollonianism that emphasized discipline, restraint, clarity, grace, harmony, sanity, and repose. This tradition tended to ignore the more Dionysian side of Hellenism, the irrational chaos lurking beneath the placid serenity of Apollonian form. These latter-day Apollonians shunned chaos and the irrational for the architectonics of order and the disciplined athleticism of the rational. It's not that they were unaware of the Dionysian dark, but they chose not to dwell on it. According to the Keefes, in his early work Pater, like Swinburne, undermined the Apollonianism of his predecessors. Anticipating Nietzsche and Freud, Pater's writing up to 1880 offered a radically new view of self and world, one that confronted the dark side of human nature and the discontinuity of the self. "In place of the Apollonianism of his cultural fathers," the Keefes contend, "Pater had enthroned an ideal of beauty that was less rational, less moralistic, more erotic" (10). The linchpin of the Keefes' argument is Greek Studies, particularly the five essays written between 1875 and 1880 ("Demeter and Persephone " in 1875, "A Study of Dionysus" in 1876, "The Bacchanals of 220 Book Reviews, 32:2, 1988 Euripides" in 1878, "The Beginnings of Greek Sculpture" in 1880, and "The Marbles of Aegina" also in 1880). They claim that the 1880 essays on Greek sculpture contradict the emphasis of the three earlier essays on myth and indicate a retreat in Pater's intellectual orientation from the troubling Dionysian dark to a more conservative desire for Apollonian form. According to the Keefes, in these early essays "Apollonian sanity is a tenuous harmony wrested with difficulty from the wild dissonance of Dionysian song" (72). But then suddenly around 1880 Apollo began to become more central to Pater's thinking, as he "turned away from the principles of disorder in a quest for a sort of ultimate sanity, a resting place amidst the flux" (26). For the Keefes, who prefer the early Pater when he was "still on the side of Venus and Dionysus" (113), Plato and Platonism is "embarrassingly Apollonian." "The rebellious aesthete who had written The Renaissance, " they lament, "has turned into a prophet of conservatism" (123). In "Apollo in Picardy," however, Pater pulls the plug on the smug Apollonianism of Plato and Platonism. Here "the god of reasoned human existence undergoes a striking sea change that serves as a sign that the century-old tradition of European Hellenism had run its course. . . . The Apollo of this portrait is a wild god, unfathomable, unpredictable, dualistic . . . [he is the] "twin of Dionysus" (136-38). The Keefes call "Apollo in Picardy" "a stunning recantation by an artist nearing death, a recognition that his thought had grown too orderly" (142). The Keefes do a good job of distinguishing Pater's Hellenism from that of his fellow Victorians, especially Ruskin; and after a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 220-223
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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