In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

31:2, Book Reviews fail to indicate enough of this recent scholarship to the reader. In the bibliography, for example, there is no mention made of Donald Hill's superb edition of TAe Renaissance, although it is essential reading for the modem student. Sir Michael Levey (whose name is misspelt in the process) is mentioned , but Laurel Brake's important essay on Pater in Oxford is not, in spite of the fact that it appears in the same volume from which Bloom anthologized Billie Inman's essay on TAe Rennaisance. No mention either of Linda Dowling's informed essay on the question of the reciprocal nature of Pater's influence, despite the obvious appeal on the notion of influence to the editor; nor of the ELT colloquium on Marius in 1984. In fact Bloom's anthology suggests something very curious about writing on Pater over the past thirty years: that the implications of the work of Hough, and in particular of Ian Fletcher, whose immensely suggestive, stimulating and elegant essay on Pater for the British Council Bloom reprints in full, are only now being taken up in earnest. Fletcher's suggestions about generic anomaly in Pater, about the relation of the visual and the written, and so on, these are only now beginning to be systematically explored. One of the distinct advantages of Bloom's collection is that it will make that essay more easily available . Ian Small University of Birmingham PATER AS MERLIN Paul Barolsky. Walter Pater's Renaissance. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1987. $23.50 Readers of Walter Pater's Renaissance are forewarned by the author that the book is not a book at all, in spite of 208 pages of text, but is instead a "sympathetic" essay that is the outpouring of his own aesthetic prescience and not to expect either extensive documentation or that the study will "prove anything in particular." Unfortunately, he is correct on both counts and to the point of exasperation at times. The book does not prove anything; in fact most of it is random, uneven musing over similarities between artists and writers over a five-hundred year span of time with Pater as a kind of nebulous center. The careless documentation is noticeable and irksome. For instance, he provides no citation during a discussion of Pater's delineation of the term, "Renaissance," for the important claim that it is "precisely the historical notion of continuity that Huizinga appropriated from Pater." A page number or at least a title would be helpful. In another instance he discusses similarities between Berenson's and Pater's choice of words and phrases—again with no documentation. 197 31:2, Book Reviews There is also the matter of superfluous contempt for current trends in criticism that mars the tone of the book. As early as page two of the preface, he serves notice that he has "deliberately tried to avoid explicit reference to Pater's relevance for the contemporary theory [only one?] of criticism—since so much of this theory has been transformed, despite the efforts of serious thinkers, into a form of intellectual chic." But who are these "serious thinkers ?" The profession appears to be in peril and Barolsky will not tell us who they are. One must assume, however, that they are also the audience at which the book is directed, an audience of "serious thinkers." The critical mélange that remains, particularly those "who skeptically indulge themselves in notions of 'indeterminacy,'" as he puts it (he prefers the word "dubitation" himself), is indiscriminately associated with the work of post-modernist, "non-aesthetic" critics condemned for ravaging the artistic tea shop that is Barolsky's selfconceived vision of the Paterian world. The defensive tone of the book throughout suggests that Barolsky sees himself involved in the high culture wars in a capacity that necessitates protecting and redefining Pater's place in the development of modem art and letters. The result is Pater as an aesthetic Merlin with an omniscient nineteenth and twentieth -century artistic presence. Barolsky finds him everywhere, in all the subjects of the Renaissance portraits: in the character of "Paterian" Sherlock Holmes (he "resembles Pater" because they both use "scientific...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 197-199
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.