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This essay revisits the question of Pater's prose style and its critical reception. With reference to the renewed philosophical interest in 'style', and to recent thinking about embodiment, it identifies two contradictory ways of characterising the prose: either as ascetic, or as its opposite (extravagant, voluptuous), both of which may be subject to praise or to blame. The meaning of this double disagreement is examined in relation to wider theoretical debates, and to the poetics of the fin de siècle. The essay argues that the idea of Pater the stylist as a proto-postmodernist should be revised.