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ELT: Volume 34:3, 1991 poetry, he was better able to elaborate and act on his belief that art and society must be intertwined: for art to flourish best, society must be thoroughly transformed. Kirchhoff has written a study that greatly enlarges our understanding of Morris not only for the period considered but for the rest of his career. Peter Stansky Stanford University Walter Pater Billie Andrew Inman. Walter Pater and His Reading, 1874-1877 with a Bibliography of His Library Borrowings, 1878—1894. New York: Garland, 1990. Ix + 537 pp. $96.00 LITERARY CHRONOLOGIES are emblematic products of our bureaucratic world. Coleridge, angered by the spy who tracked him so ineptly for a few days in the late 1790s, failed to realize that spying was intrinsic to his—and our—era. In an age of unprecedented public intrusiveness, artists lived under surveillance every day, a continuing investigation carried on by a horde of admirers and opponents anxious to pass on information about the great and the merely fashionable. Those myriad private reports of the Crabb Robinsons of the literary world are finally, in our time, being collated and published. Wordsworth's dossier appeared first, and it has by now been joined by the files on Conrad, Kipling, Byron, Tennyson, Eliot, and Trollope. No one will perpetrate a Pater chronology in the foreseeable future, though a juicy fact or two is beginning to appear. Pater did his best to disappear behind his pen, and so far he has largely succeeded. In his case, our insatiable curiosity, unable fully to uncover the man, has had to make do with what he read and what he wrote. One of the most knowledgeable researchers into Pater's literary life is Billie Andrew Inman, a founder of the Pater Society and editor of the planned publication of the writer's complete works. This second volume of her findings is both as impressive and as puzzling as the first. It covers a crucial period of Pater's career, when he was under strenuous criticism both for the audacity of The Renaissance and, apparently, for the intensity of his friendships with young men. In tracking down Pater's library borrowings while at the same time annotating his writings ofthat period, Inman has produced at once one of the most important and one 346 Book Reviews of the strangest sets of books yet written on Pater. Its subject would have been astounded, perhaps flattered, and probably troubled. In the first place, the work is indispensable. No scholar can afford to write on Pater without becoming familiar with it. It is a rich quarry of Pateriana, filled with intelligent discussions of all manner of disparate subjects, from an overview of Victorian attitudes toward what was variously (and belligerently) called Anglo-Saxon or Old English, to a continuing, at times impressively substantiated, discussion of the tensions of Pater's professional life at Oxford. Inman has dug assiduously and fruitfully. Her contributions to an understanding of Pater's intellectual development are consistently insightful and often illuminating. Her placement of "The School of Giorgione" within the 1877 context of the Whistler/Ruskin debacle, for example, is intelligent and plausible, though other authorities, notably Lawrence Evans and Donald Hill, have maintained that the essay was composed several years earlier. Smaller aperçus, such as the point that Pater's praise of Emily Brontë in "Romanticism" predated Swinburne's better known and more extended compliment by a good seven years, are to be found throughout the book. One learns a great deal from this volume. Moreover Inman writes well. That is, she possesses both a lucid prose style and an excellent ability to organize short arguments. Taken in moderate doses, her book is nearly always instructive and at times delightful. Her struggles with longer forms of discourse, though, limit the potential effectiveness of her work. The book as a whole, like her earlier Walter Pater's Reading: A Bibliography of His Library Borrowings and Literary References, 1858-1873 (1981), veers too sharply in the direction of a sheer agglomeration of miscellaneous information about her favorite subject. In "Style," Pater himself distinguished between "soul," a quality of intensity, and "mind," a quality of form...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 346-349
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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