Walter Pater: Lover of Strange Souls

Denis Donoghue, Author Alfred A. Knopf $28 (364p) ISBN 978-0-679-43753-6
The reputation of English critic and essayist Pater (1839-1894) grew after he published Studies in the History of Renaissance Art (1873), in which he advocated an appreciation of art for its intrinsic value (``Art for Art's Sake'') rather than for its moral or educational content. In this prodigiously researched scholarly study of Pater's life and work, Donoghue, University Professor at New York University, argues that Pater also adjusted his prose style to aesthetic interests and, in doing so, was a precursor of modernism. According to the author, Pater's tone can be felt in the later works of Joyce, Eliot, Woolf and other major modern authors. A homosexual, Pater traveled in the same literary circles as Oscar Wilde but was not as daring or outspoken. In his books of criticism (Appreciations, 1889), Pater based his evaluations on the aesthetic experience aroused by the prose or poetic work he was critiquing. An interesting and informed contribution to literary studies. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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