Studies in the History of the Renaissance



❰Reading❯ ➿ Studies in the History of the Renaissance Author Walter Pater – E17streets4all.co.uk Through his highly idiosyncratic readings of some of the finest paintings, sculptures, and poems of the French and Italian Renaissance, Walter Pater in Studies in the History of the Renaissance redefi the History Kindle Ö Through the History of the PDF or his highly idiosyncratic readings of some of the finest paintings, sculptures, and poems of the French and Studies in Kindle - Italian Renaissance, Walter Pater in Studies in the History of the Renaissance redefined the practice of criticism as an in the History MOBI í impressionistic, almost erotic exploration of the critic s aesthetic responses Pater s infamous Conclusion, which forever linked him with the decadent movement, scandalized many with its insistence on making pleasure the sole motive of life, even as it charmed fellow aesthetes such as Oscar Wilde This edition of Studies reproduces the text of the first edition ofMatthew Beaumont s Introduction describes the cultural context that gave rise to the book, the reasons for its notoriety, Pater s philosophical outlook, and the arguments in his book It explores Pater s work as an attempt to preserve the unique aesthetic of a work of art in the face of encroaching mass culture The book also includes the later chapter on Giorgione as an Appendix, comprehensive notes that identify the many literary and artistic references, and a useful glossary of namesAbout the Series For overyears Oxford World s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe Each affordable volume reflects Oxford s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up to date bibliographies for further study, and much.Studies in the History of the Renaissance

the History Kindle Ö Is the History of the PDF or a well known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Studies Studies in Kindle - in the History of the Renaissance book, this is one of the most wanted Walter Pater author readers around in the History MOBI í the world.

Studies in the History of the Renaissance PDF/EPUB ×
    Studies in the History of the Renaissance PDF/EPUB × the decadent movement, scandalized many with its insistence on making pleasure the sole motive of life, even as it charmed fellow aesthetes such as Oscar Wilde This edition of Studies reproduces the text of the first edition ofMatthew Beaumont s Introduction describes the cultural context that gave rise to the book, the reasons for its notoriety, Pater s philosophical outlook, and the arguments in his book It explores Pater s work as an attempt to preserve the unique aesthetic of a work of art in the face of encroaching mass culture The book also includes the later chapter on Giorgione as an Appendix, comprehensive notes that identify the many literary and artistic references, and a useful glossary of namesAbout the Series For overyears Oxford World s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe Each affordable volume reflects Oxford s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up to date bibliographies for further study, and much."/>
  • Paperback
  • 231 pages
  • Studies in the History of the Renaissance
  • Walter Pater
  • English
  • 09 July 2019
  • 0199535078

10 thoughts on “Studies in the History of the Renaissance

  1. says:

    If you put only one 150 year old book of art essays on your reading list, this is the one I would recommend It revolutionized British art criticism, inspired and provided a philosophical basis for the l art pour l art movement, and, most important for me at least , it expressed a new sensibility in innovative and beautiful prose lambent, melodious, sinuous, languid and yet capable of intellectual subtlety and moral force prose which would influence English letters for decades to come.The mid If you put only one 150 year old book of art essays on your reading list, this is the one I would recommend It revolutionized British art criticism, inspired and provided a philosophical basis for the l art pour l art movement, and, most important for me at least , it expressed a new sensibility in innovative and beautiful prose lambent, melodious, sinuous, languid and yet capable of intellectual subtlety and moral force prose which would influence English letters for decades to come.The mid Victorians had moved art criticism into the realms of the moral Ruskin and the objective Arnold Then, in 1867, Pater asked how can we determine the morality of a style or the value of an aesthetic object unless we first become aware of our own impressions and the sensations they evoke in us In aesthetic criticism the first step towards seeing one s object as it really is, is to know one s own impression as it really is, to discriminate it, to realise it distinctly For Pater, the critic is someone who educates his sensibilities by bathing them in the subtleties of beauty, and then, by analyzing his own reactions, transforms himself into a sentient instrument for the appreciation of art What is important, then, is not that the critic should possess a correct abstract definition of beauty for the intellect, but a certain kind of temperament, the power of being deeply moved by the presence of beautiful objects A generation after Pater wrote these words, his views had come to dominate the fin de siecle Throughout the 70 s, young intellectuals, particularly those of Uranian sensibility, gravitated to Pater s Oxford afternoon teas His visitors and correspondents included many who would help form the taste of the coming age Arthur Symons, Lionel Johnson, Violet Paget Vernon Lee , and Gerard Manley Hopkins, to mention a few Oscar Wilde in particular revered The Renaissance, and in his last year at college often took walks with Pater to discuss his aesthetics, which later became the basis of Wilde s own He and the other young men of his generation took Pater s message as their guide to life as well as art to burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life The two men admired but did not like each other Pater found Wilde clever but disagreeable Oscar thought Pater too easily frightened When Pater later condemned Dorian Gray as an immoral distortion of Epicureanism, their amicable relationship came to an end In addition to the sensibilities of The Yellow Nineties, Pater s exaltation of beauty over utility also helped shape Modernist attitudes in the early 20th Century Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Yeats and Stevens all are touched by the influence of The Renaissance.If you don t have the time for the whole book, you should at least read the introduction and the conclusion, Pico della Mirandola for an illuminating glimpse of early Christian Humanism , Leonardo da Vinci for the Mona Lisa , The School of Giorgione for some of Pater s mature observations on painting , and Winckelmann for the tragic history of this early German Hellenist and his romantic, fervent friendships with young men.To illustrate the beauty of Pater s prose, here is part of his celebrated description of the Mona Lisa which Yeats thought so poetic he reproduced it in an anthology, all by itself, broken up into lines as if it were free verseShe is older than the rocks among which she sits like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.

  2. says:

    Books mark pathways I arrived at this book from a quote encountered in Botticelli that I found very beautiful It came from Pater s essay on Botticelli and this may remains my favourite essay from this collection ..he is a visionary painter, and in his visionariness he resembles Dante Giotto, the tried companion of Dante, Masaccio, Ghirlandaio even, do but transcribe, withor less refining, the outward image they are dramatic, not visionary painters. But the genius of which Botticell Books mark pathways I arrived at this book from a quote encountered in Botticelli that I found very beautiful It came from Pater s essay on Botticelli and this may remains my favourite essay from this collection ..he is a visionary painter, and in his visionariness he resembles Dante Giotto, the tried companion of Dante, Masaccio, Ghirlandaio even, do but transcribe, withor less refining, the outward image they are dramatic, not visionary painters. But the genius of which Botticelli is the type usurps the data before it as the exponent of ideas, moods, visions of its own. This volume is then a collection of essays published separately at different dates, from around the decade of the 1870s When he wrote them, the subjects were not as widely treated or known as they are now This requires a certain degree of estrangement from our own culture if one desires to bring to life the novelty of Pater s perceptions Their freshness also helps us to belenient with the few errors in which he incurred.Following the tradition of the Grand Tour, Walter Pater 1839 1894 travelled to Italy in 1865 These were years of dramatic changes in the political geography of Italy And this requires also an effort in our imagination in trying to detach ourselves from our contemporary notions of the place Unsurprisingly, during his visit a new passion took hold of Pater and he proceeded to devote several of his subsequent studies and writings to the Italian artists of the Renaissance The understanding of the Renaissance, in particular of the earlier part the late 14C and 15C, deepened significantly during the 19C The French historian Michelet baptised the period with its now coined term soon the Swiss historian Burckhardt articulated its culture the theoretician Ernest Renan expanded the geographical borders of its cultural imagination British circles of artists called themselves in honour to the art that interested them Ruskin echoed these artists, his friends, in the shift of emphasis on which part of the Renaissance offered the most sincere morality It is in this trail that we have to situate Pater s lovely essays.The essay that drew me in the path to this book was apparently the first monographic study of Botticelli in England Even if I picked the book for its Botticelli, I have also enjoyed his study of the early French literature, with the stories of Li Amitiez de Ami et Amile and Aucassin et Nicolette Reading Pater just after Burckhardt s The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, who was convinced that the Renaissance could only have happened in Italy, this different focus on the French provenance of the seeds of the new way for man to understand his own place in the world, was startling But only for a couple of seconds After all, we know well that Proven al as well as Sicilian poetry paved the way to Dante s still nuovo.Pater s writing on Giorgione is wonderful for its generalities and less so for its particulars Giorgione has been a difficult artist to study given the scant documentary evidence Pater wrote his views when it had just been decided that several works had been wrongly attributed to Giorgione He therefore centres on the one painting, which he thinks was undoubtedly a Giorgione Sadly, it is now thought that Titian painted it Nonetheless, many of his meditations on aesthetics are still a riveting read.Another of my favourites was his Pico della Mirandola Pater digs inside the preoccupations of this intriguing personality and presents him as the epitome of the goals of the Renaissance thinker the impossible reconciliation of the pagan antique world with the Christian religiosity.The jewel of the crown, however, is his essay on Leonardo Pater first pointed the finger and identified that which was non identifiable the elusiveness and ambiguity of La Gioconda s smile, and thereby contributing to the consecration of the most iconic of icons . its germinal principle, the unfathomable smile, always with a touch of something sinister in it. Befittingly the essay itself has become an icon of Pater.And as reading paths rarely come to a dead end, to follow on the track of Pater I can already identify several book posts with the name of Walter Pater stamped on their spines

  3. says:

    theliberal life we have been seeking so long, so near to us all the while How mistaken and roundabout have been our efforts to reach it by mystic passion and religious reverie how they have deflowered the flesh how little they have emancipated us Hermione melts from her stony posture, and the lost proportions of life right themselves It s amazing how thoroughly Pater s study of the aesthetics of the Renaissance has been incorporated into our own modern attitude toward the subjecttheliberal life we have been seeking so long, so near to us all the while How mistaken and roundabout have been our efforts to reach it by mystic passion and religious reverie how they have deflowered the flesh how little they have emancipated us Hermione melts from her stony posture, and the lost proportions of life right themselves It s amazing how thoroughly Pater s study of the aesthetics of the Renaissance has been incorporated into our own modern attitude toward the subject in this book written disparately between 1866 and 1877 one recognizes what is now the established context through which we view the great works of the 15th and 16th centuries one can also catch glimpses of an aesthetic sense and even a lushness of prose style that can be found blooming later in the Modernists Proust s gently verbose approach toward infinite beauty, the phenomenologists concern with the ultimate power of the imagination and the long resonance of the brief image, the late Sensualists doctrines of intimate knowledge and voluptuous experience, Wilde s entire oeuvre predicted, Woolf s rhythms in their embryonic form, Joyce s erudite, elegant crafting and musicality The famous conclusion to the Renaissance studies gathers the ghosts of Blake, Poe, Gautier, Swinburne, and a host of others to make an argument against death, oblivion, and fettered modes of living, and proposes a dignity to human life that lies in its swiftness, its sweetness , its subjectivity, its completeness in the awareness of death, each moment death struck, unstable, flickering, inconstant , but elevated by the aesthetic sensibilities and given a permanence in the growth of perfected forms.This idea is formulated in a series of connected biographical essays on a selection of some of the great, representational minds of the times, influenced by Pater s travels to Florence, Pisa and Ravenna and his observations of the troves of art lying open there The essays attempt at a chronology of these persons lives, but are beautifully digressive, and do not linger long on particularities Pater s point here is to elucidate theories of beauty and change and technique rooted in the intellectual development of these beings and their works Dante and Savonarola loom over the entire work like archangels, but Pater finds his essence in Pico della Mirandola attempting a reconciliation of Catholicism and paganism, trying to bring Homer, Virgil, Demosthenes and Cicero into the environs of the papacy with his Oration on the Dignity of Man the letters of Abelard and Heloise, and the French chanson that sung in strict rhyme of earthly passion and estranged lovers midnight meetings in huts weaved from wildflowers and moonlit gardens girdled by ruined stone walls Botticelli , and the sadness with which he conceives the goddess of pleasure , a blending in him of a sympathy for humanity in its uncertain condition, its attractiveness, its investiture at rarer moments in a character of loveliness and energy, with his consciousness of the shadow upon it of the great things from which it shrinks Michelangelo s tempered strength, his Leda, the delight of the world breaking from the egg of a bird , his unfinished sculptures hinting at unfinished humanity, his love of stone and the ashen tones of isolation Joachim du Bellay s efforts to elevate vulgar French to a language capable of containing the highest philosophical and intellectual flights, and in this a rejection of the church s imposed Latin on the academia da Vinci, smitten with a love of the impossible the perforation of mountains, changing the course of rivers, raising great buildings, such as the church of San Giovanni, in the air , for whom philosophy was to be something giving strange swiftness and double sight, divining sources of springs beneath the earth or of expression beneath the human countenance , his way to perfection through a series of disgusts , his obsessive sketches of human faces with an interfusion of terror and beauty that was given its greatest expression in the Medusa of the Uffizi In da Vinci, Pater locates the thesis of the Renaissance, the reach for beauty in the radical terror and loneliness of mankind on earth, and that this reach needs to be as much toward the past as it is toward the future In da Vinci s works we see the individual within the acknowledged types breaking free, the rent rock, the distorting lights of evening on lonely roads, the unveiled structure of man in the embryo, or the skeleton The ultimate emphasis of the book is that in the attempt to resurrect Antiquity, to reclaim out of darkened centuries the Hellenic light, in the modes of living of those polytheistic, sensual, humanistic Greeks, the great artists of the Renaissance were attempting to infuse a lost dignity into the human form, to again feel pity for the lot of man, to find a delimiting way forward through crushing religious and economic forces, to stake their lives on the value of human beauty, philosophy, music, in contrast to some Platonic ideal realm that we may never attain, to limn a gesture and grace and sounds that locate the divine in the mortal and the hope that with this rediscovery would come a gentleness, a kind of sympathy, a nostalgic song sung for the blighted lives of men That life should be as kind and elevated and touched by beauty as is possible, and that those ambitions are not fulfilled by the abstractions of Christianity and faith in another life That this life might prove itself to be enoughTo burn always with this hard, gem like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in lifeOne interesting way this collection dates itself is how Botticelli is constantly referred to as a minor painter , overlooked , etc I wonder if Pater alone is responsible, in this book, for Botticelli s present prominence

  4. says:

    It is an extraordinary book anyone who loves writing must read it The book is a collection of essays on male artists and their art, andimportantly, their friendships.In the preface, Walter Pater tells how to approach a work of art One must view a work of art in a way that there stands nothing between the material object and the spectator The observer should immerse himself completely and see how the artwork influences, how it alters something, and what sort of bodily sensations it prod It is an extraordinary book anyone who loves writing must read it The book is a collection of essays on male artists and their art, andimportantly, their friendships.In the preface, Walter Pater tells how to approach a work of art One must view a work of art in a way that there stands nothing between the material object and the spectator The observer should immerse himself completely and see how the artwork influences, how it alters something, and what sort of bodily sensations it produces in the onlooker He writes, To define beauty not in the most abstract, but in the most concrete terms possible, not to find a universal formula for it, but the formula which expresses most adequately this or that special manifestation of it, is the aim of the true student of sthetics Pater s sentences gather and reveal concreteness of its own as if they were tiny pieces of art.Although the book is about art history and art criticism, it is as much about male artists and their unique friendships Pater writes about the finer aspects of art criticism and gives us biographical details of the artists involved One has to pay attention as Pater, being a university professor in Victorian England, reveals, in his own wonderfully regulated sentences, homosexuality of the artists that he studies in this book.Right in the preface, for instance, we read an interesting remark that anyone who only responds to female beauty, but remains oblivious to beauty in male figures cannot appreciate a work of art Artists studied in the book belonged to a certain era except for the essay on Winckelmann Pater included Winckelmann because he belonged with artists from the earlier period Although Winckelmann was born in the 18th century, in his soul and sensibility, he belonged elsewhere Pater elucidates I have added an essay on Winckelmann, as not incongruous with the studies which precede it, because Winckelmann, coming in the eighteenth century, really belongs in spirit to an earlier age By his enthusiasm for the things of the intellect and the imagination, by his Hellenism, his life long struggle to attain the Greek spirit, he is in sympathy with the humanists of an earlier century He is the last fruit of the Renaissance, and explains its motive and tendencies strikingly I liked the entire book essays, for instance, on Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci but I truly adored the chapter on Winckelmann Strangely, he reminds of Genet Since he is closer to us in time, I could feel and understand his urgency, how he wandered in Rome in the world pursuing art and truth In a way, he is responding to life, as Pater philosophizes on art criticism, in a very individual fashion, going against the tide, in his own unique and personally felt ways His response to life is absolutely uninhibited there is no caution, no external mediation of any sort regulating or inducing fear in him, nor does anything dissuading him from his self chosen path In some ways, even though it is suggested in a very subdued way, Goethe unconsummated friendship, his deep seated admiration for Winckelmann make their story particularly poignant.It is interesting to see how Pater, so cautiously, cleverly, and in an astute scholarly fashion, dealt with the unspeakable aspects of life and art, which later on, greatly influenced by Pater, Oscar Wilde took up He presented to the world in his brilliant and rambunctious manner, though in no way superior to Pater

  5. says:

    That it has given a new sense, that it has laid open a new organ, is the highest that can be said of any critical effort. I had no idea what to expect from these essays The only reason I became aware of Pater was because a copy of this book was sitting on the bathroom floor in my friend s father s house Since my friend s father is a successful painter, I naturally took note of a book about art so intimately placed Much later, after finishing Burckhardt s famous analysis of the Renaissance, That it has given a new sense, that it has laid open a new organ, is the highest that can be said of any critical effort. I had no idea what to expect from these essays The only reason I became aware of Pater was because a copy of this book was sitting on the bathroom floor in my friend s father s house Since my friend s father is a successful painter, I naturally took note of a book about art so intimately placed Much later, after finishing Burckhardt s famous analysis of the Renaissance, and with my trip to Rome looming, I decided that I would finally see why a painter sought out this book for his bathroom inspiration Pater was an idiosyncratic fellow, and these essays certainly reflect that Some of the topics he covers are expected Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci Others aresurprising Joachim du Bellay, a Frenchman who wrote a defense of the French language two medieval French stories about love and adventure and Johann Winckelmann, the 18th century German classicist Clearly, Pater s conception of the Renaissance was far broader than Burckhardt s, who considered the Renaissance a strictly Italian affair Also broad is Pater s conception of criticism for him, it is not merely a vocation, but an entire philosophy of life.I am referring specifically to the famous Conclusion that is tacked on to the end of these essays In it, Pater puts forward a whole aesthetic philosophy of life Everything is in flux both matter and mind are temporary the only thing we have is the moment and since death may come at any time, and will come inevitably, the only rational response is to enjoy this moment as best you can Now, some thought that Pater was advocating hedonism, but that is far from the case He was, rather, an aesthete and for him, enjoying the moment meant finding the most beautiful shade of green in a field of grass, or observing the play of light on a windowpane that sort of thing The ability to be constantly, delicately, indefatigably absorbed in one s senses, and yet have the focus and taste necessary to select from these perceptions the most lovely, is what Pater meant with his famous suggestion to burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, which for him is success in life At times, the age of these essays showed This was most conspicuous in Pater s essay on Giorgione, in which he bases his whole appreciation on one painting, elevating it to the height and epitome of Giorgione s aesthetic a painting which is now believed to be by Titian But for the most part, the essays have retained their force and interest Indeed, you may not realize how original this book was, since it anticipated and shaped so many of our attitudes about art and the Renaissance To pick just one example, Pater s discussion of the Mona Lisa, dwelling on her mysterious smile, certainly helped spur on our fascination for that work.Nevertheless, I am unsure whether Pater actually deepened my appreciation for the Renaissance works he discussed This is due, I think, to his ideal of the critic to be acutely sensitive to the power of art, and to be finely discriminating of what isor less beautiful Sensitive and discriminating Pater certainly is Several times I wondered if he passed out while writing his essays, since, judging by his breathless and insistent tone, he was always to be right on the cusp of a brilliant epiphany or a transcendent experience It must have been exhausting But notice what is lacking from his ideal of the critic to analyze, to discuss, to inform The critics who have most helped me appreciate art are those who taught me about the painting the artist who showed me what to look for, how best to situated the painting within a certain context in short, who pulled me into the world of the painting But since Pater holds up sensitivty and discrimination as ideals, he is faced with the problem how does one communicate those qualities, which are personal, to somebody else To do this, he resorts to writing long rhapsodies, reveries, aesthetic ecstasies about the works under consideration These passages are almost uniformly brilliant, often breathtaking Nevertheless, it feltlike watching Pater look at a painting, overhearing the thoughts and associations the painting inspires in his brain, rather than learning how to appreciate the painting myself.I cannot finish this review without discussing Pater s prose He is considered to be one of the great stylists, and this reputation is well deserved The man was such a brilliant writer that it often seemed irrelevant what he was writing about he could write an essay on the underside of a mosquito and it would be good literature This is not to say that he has no limitations Most conspicuously, he has not even a trace of the epigrammatic If a point can be made in ten words, Pater will give you fifty, though those fifty will be as finely crafted as a Baroque statue His sentences never arrest you or stop you short, but rather overwhelm you, burying you under a pile of clauses, metaphors, images, until you re short of breath and so dazzled that it seems someone has shone a flashlight in your eyes Comparisons with Proust and Woolf, especially the latter, come readily to mind but Pater has a manic insistence that makes his writing uniquely urgent.Another limitation is that Pater seems incapable of that kind of easy grace, that effortless virtuosity, which many of the greatest writers display Rather, his prose strains every nerve, exerts every muscle, panting and sweating as it pushes itself onward This impression is, apparently, an accurate one According to Wiki, he obsessively polished, tweaked, and rewrote his works, until every word, every sentence, every paragraph was just to his taste This makes his prose like a super ornate jewel, breathtaking in its designs, its symmetries, and its technical daring yet for all that rather delicate and precious, and inevitably a bit ostentatious I will leave you with a passage from his essay on Michelangelo And of all that range of sentiment he is the poet, a poet still alive, and in possession of our inmost thoughts dumb inquiry over the relapse after death into the formlessness which preceded life, the change, the revolt from that change, then the correcting, hallowing, consoling rush of pity at last, far off, thin and vague, yet notvague than the most definite thoughts men have had through three centuries on a matter that has been so near their hearts, the new body a passing light, a mere intangible, external effect, over those too rigid, or too formless faces a dream that lingers a moment, retreating in the dawn, incomplete, aimless, helpless a thing with faint hearing, faint memory, faint power of touch a breath, a flame in the doorway, a feather in the wind

  6. says:

    This brought me back to college, when, under the sway of Sexual Personae, I expended an inordinate amount of youthful ardor reading, underlining, and reading over again key paragraphs in the prose manifestoes of aestheticism, particularly Baudelaire s Salons and my golden book The Painter of Modern Life Paglia s suggestion of Pater led me to the famous Conclusion of The Renaissance It struck me as something like an English domestication of Symbolism, what minor talents are always apt to w This brought me back to college, when, under the sway of Sexual Personae, I expended an inordinate amount of youthful ardor reading, underlining, and reading over again key paragraphs in the prose manifestoes of aestheticism, particularly Baudelaire s Salons and my golden book The Painter of Modern Life Paglia s suggestion of Pater led me to the famous Conclusion of The Renaissance It struck me as something like an English domestication of Symbolism, what minor talents are always apt to want, a recipe for being an artist two phrases of Hugh Kenner s I would have endorsed had I known them, but which now seem beside the point, if not churlish and I decided not to bother with the rest of the book Too vague Not enough spleen P To burn always with this hard, gem like flame B who sounds like Werner Herzog You mean my naked mistress wearing nought but jewels, bangles and chains whose jingling music give her the conquering hair of a Moorish slave on days when her master is pleased Pis success in life.B Success In life Life is ennui Bad Luck Erotic torment A hospital in which every patient seeks to change bedsI ll put down my dolls I also snickered at what I saw as Pater s donnish straining after Socratic effect, the molding of handsome young heads it worked Wilde cherished The Renaissance Similarly, Lytton Strachey is said to have in a sad parody of seduction influenced a generation of Cambridge undergraduates via the institutional memory of his languorous attitude and cache of decadent French novels Monastic British homosexuality looked pretty quaint back when Edmund White s grab your can of Crisco 70s sex memoirs defined my idea of gay writing Maybe I didn t take English aestheticism seriously because I didn t see it leading anywhere I could see how Baudelaire and Flaubert got you to Proust, Joyce, and Nabokov Pater seemed to lead to Wilde and the early, heraldic Yeats that is, not very far In painting, Manet and C zanne Picasso and Matisse Burne Jones and D.G Rossetti fantasy novel cover art Well, I was pretty stupid Pater is amazing, deeply weird, anything but quaint or dismissible I m drawn to his relish of ambiguous complexity, the fetish he makes of secret histories, subtle abdications, and the futility of labels and orthodoxies that have no real claim upon us This was a man who planned to become a clergyman despite believing not a word of Anglican doctrine, so excited was he by the idea of a public office concealing a strange soul Wilde may have been attracted by this play of masks Denied that lark, this gay don grew a heavy military moustache, and retained this grotesque disguise to the end of his life Kenneth Clark, again from the Introduction A small group of friends delighted in his conversation For the rest he was mysteriously absent or completely impenetrable In the chronicles I make merely the sign of the hiatus The re discovery of pagan models, of motion and sentimentsubdued and mysterious, ampler andambiguous than found in the all too legible allegories, the coarse theological caricatures of Medieval art, is thus the perfect pretext for Pater s modernist purification of aesthetics, his divesture of public morality, labels, engagement, judgment, his focus on the passive, shifting illegibility of our states Pater sees, both as an ideal to be attained and a true state to be conveyed by realistic art, that white light, purged from the angry, bloodlike stains of passion and action, which reveals, not what is accidental in man, but the tranquil godship in him, as opposed to the restless accidents of life. Man and women, again, in the hurry of life, often wear the sharp impress of one absorbing motive, from which it is said death sets their features free whereas the effigies of Greek sculpture are characterless, so far as character involves subjection to the accidental influences of life Through art, Pater says, we can confront the ineffable, elusive stuff of life the vacant figure, nameless and unplaced in history that Yourcenar s Hadrian found beneath and beyond his serial selves and temporary worldly commitments the inmost self Proust aimed to excavate from the pretentions manifested in our habits, in society, in our vices I invoke Proust and Yourcenar because I now see Pater not as the godfather of a facile kind of fin de si cle verse, all Whistler ish daubs and washes, but as herald of the benthic analyses of the introspective modernist novel Paglia quotes a critic who calls Virginia Woolf the final exquisite flower of Pater s doctrine Interesting It s a pity that some books are known by but one purple patch at a time In this case, it s Pater s famous evocation of a vampiric Mona Lisa, which Yeats broke into free verse and placed first above the lintel, as it were when he was allowed to edit the Oxford Book of Modern Verse I for one think Pater is best encapsulated by his passage on Botticelli s ambivalent Madonnas Her trouble is in the very caress of the mysterious child, whose gaze is always far from her, and who has already that sweet look of devotion which men have never been able altogether to love, and which still makes the born saint an object almost of suspicion to his earthly brethren Once, indeed, he guides her hand to transcribe in a book the words of her exaltation, the Ave, and the Magnificat, and the Gaude Maria, and the young angels, glad to rouse her for a moment from her dejection, are eager to hold the inkhorn and to support the book But the pen almost drops from her hand, and the high cold words have no meaning for her, and her true children are those others, among whom, in her rude home, the intolerable honour came to her, with that look of wistful inquiry on their irregular faces which you see in startled animals gipsy children, such as those who, in Apennine villages, still hold out their long brown arms to beg of you, but on Sundays become enfants du choeur, with their thick black hair nicely combed, and fair white linen on their sunburnt throats. And, perhaps, the bisexual Marina Tsvetaeva, who writes How much a human being loses with the acquisition of a sex, when for nought, away, this, there begin to be designated by a name, from the total blueness of the longing and the river it turns into a face, with a nose, with eyes, and in my childhood, a prince nez as well, and a moustache

  7. says:

    Rereading Walter Pater Rereading Walter Pater s The Renaissance I m struck how the sheer pleasure of reading the book breaks hard against the abundance of thought it provokes It makes it difficult to decide if I should rhapsodize about the beauty of his prose or delight in the many connections his work has to other writers and thinkers both before and after him Perhaps a little of both.His aesthetic, as he describes it at the beginning of his essay on Giorgione, accounts for how he allowed him Rereading Walter Pater Rereading Walter Pater s The Renaissance I m struck how the sheer pleasure of reading the book breaks hard against the abundance of thought it provokes It makes it difficult to decide if I should rhapsodize about the beauty of his prose or delight in the many connections his work has to other writers and thinkers both before and after him Perhaps a little of both.His aesthetic, as he describes it at the beginning of his essay on Giorgione, accounts for how he allowed himself the luxury of such a poetic style For Pater, the all important element in a work of art is its impression When he says, in its primary aspect, a great picture has nodefinite message for us than an accidental play of sunlight and shadow for a few moments on the wall he frees himself to enter a painting or poem or the life of an artist and permit his own reactions to form the meaning He can suggest the sound of poured water mixing with played pipes in F te Champ ter or the smile of the Mona Lisa defining itself on the fabric of Leonardo s dreams and I take these in without any hesitation that they are not good scholarship since that is not the intention Pater is not trying to get at some objective message or meaning, but at what it means to him to inhabit a certain space.Pater argues that it s neither the senses nor the intellect that art addresses, but the imaginative reason I immediately understand this to correspond to what I call the sensibility It is an odd organ of perception But it is Pater s effort to describe how this vague organ registers aesthetic reality that makes his descriptions so beautiful and why it is not accurate to understand him as simply a critic or hedonist In fact, so many of his attitudes and ideas seem to foreshadow much in modernism and existentialism.As I read him, I have strong but undefined feelings that he stands on the narrowest and subtlest bridge dividing what is Romantic from what is modern Or that he breathes the air of both atmospheres without fully inhabiting either Certainly, much of what is in the major existentialists and major modernists can be seen as the evolution of the Romantic stances, their natural consequence and end When Blake asserts that the imagination is the Holy Spirit, there is no significant progress made when Stevens proclaims God and the imagination are one When Keats said negative capability is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact reason, he defined exclusively for artists what Camus would define as the absurd man So when Pater describes Fra Angelico s Coronation of the Virgin, it registers asthan an aesthetic disagreement, but a metaphysical one That s because Pater had already made a step toward that fragmented landscape of modern life But he doesn t seem to step fully into it or, if he does, he s wearing some kind of protective armor, something that keeps his mind intact where later minds are in pieces What Pater says of Goethe could be said of himself, he defines, in clearest outline, the eternal problem of culture balance, unity with one s self One sees his method of unity in how he portrays what the mind does to satisfy its need to feel itself alive He said it must see into the laws, the operation, the intellectual reward of every divided form of culture but only that it may measure the relation between itself and them It struggles with those forms till its secret is won from each, and then lets each fall back into its place This reaches back to Blake who said,He who binds to himself a joyDoth the winged life destroy.He who kisses the joy as it flies,Lives in eternity s sunrise.And it reaches forward to Simone de Beauvoir when she defines freedom as being able to surpass the given toward an open future Between these two metaphysics of freedom, Pater defines his technique to give the intellect the completeness he said it demanded However, this technique contains the seed of its own dissolution In the very notion of the divided form of culture is everything that gives him his uniting focus and what transformed, for later minds, into a multiplicity that fragmented the psyche itself.For Pater, there are discrete aesthetic moments offered to the intellect to construct its own unity, forms yielding definitions and boundaries of cultural discourse But in the 20th century, the existentialists rejected the mere play of such forms Again Simone de Beauvoir said, We repudiate all idealisms, mysticism, etcetera which prefer a Form to man himself The divided object presented to the mind in the 20th century was not culture, but man himself, his fragmented psyche As the poet George Oppen put it, we have chosen the meaning, of being numerous The self no longer felt the unity it once did and could no longer contrive it Walter Pater s mentor, Matthew Arnold, exemplified this fragmentation quite dramatically In fact, the teacher stood on the other side of that bridge dividing and distinguishing the Romantic sensibility from the modern one.Pater was not driven, like his mentor, to proclaim, I am fragments because aesthetic appreciation was a uniting principle for him He was not a hedonist, but an aesthete In his famous conclusion to The Renaissance, Pater writes, Not to discriminate every moment some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the very brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing of forces on their ways, is, in this short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening With this sense of the splendor of our experience and of its awful brevity, gathering all we are into one desperate effort to see and touch, we shall hardly have time to make theories about the things we see and touch It is staggeringly beautiful and poignant, another of the infinite renderings of carpe diem But we see here the idealism Beauvoir rejects we see Pater s unity in gathering together these moments He is the central self bringing his singular experiences into the whole of his guiding intelligence And this divides him from the 20th and 21st centuries this keeps him from being wholly modern As close to the doorstep as he comes, he remains outside But he is so wonderfully there, an almost reassuring figure if only we could belike him the favorite grandfather of many artists and intellectuals, a source of wisdom too remote to follow but close enough to relish quoting

  8. says:

    After coming across an excerpt from The Renaissance in the Norton critical edition of Oscar Wilde s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and read the whole work Though Pater is often described as a proponent of art for art s sake and thus one of the key figures in the late nineteenth century aestheticism caricatured by Wilde , I found him to be a relentless searcher for metaphysical meaning in the ineffable details of art, e.g from the chapter on the painter Giorgion After coming across an excerpt from The Renaissance in the Norton critical edition of Oscar Wilde s The Picture of Dorian Gray, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and read the whole work Though Pater is often described as a proponent of art for art s sake and thus one of the key figures in the late nineteenth century aestheticism caricatured by Wilde , I found him to be a relentless searcher for metaphysical meaning in the ineffable details of art, e.g from the chapter on the painter Giorgione t he sudden act, the rapid transition of thought, the passing expression or a mere gesture, a look, a smile in such exquisite pauses in timewe seem to be spectators of all the fulness of existence, and which are like some consummate extract or quintessence of life Surely such details are what lend most art its potency in our lives, and what we tend to remember the longest The Renaissance is a rich exposition of such details in the works of various key figures from that period, and an invitation to mine it and art from all periods for nuggets of experience with which to come closer to the quintessence of life Of course, if you re anything like me, you will want to knowprecisely what that quintessence consists of Pater, apparently, was not particularly interested in that information, but rather in attaining the highest quality to your moments , or, as he infelicitously puts it, getting as many pulsations as possible into the given time This point of view makes his famous Conclusion anticlimactic for me After the rich suggestiveness of the analyses of da Vinci, Michaelangelo, et al., to then reduce it all to pleasurable pulsations But the suggestiveness remains, despite, his interpretation The Renaissance does regale the reader with observations of a world filled with intimations from art that man is indeed made in the image of God It matters little if Pater did not believe in that God if he has so eloquently laid out the evidence

  9. says:

    A fine example of creative subversion Ostensibly a collection of critical essays addressing subjects such as Da Vinci, Bottecelli, Pico della Mirandolla, and others, Pater uses them to demonstrate his own aesthetic philosophy in practice a refined and subjective approach to the interpretation of creative expression What Pater reveals, in addition to a delightful command of the written word, is not the supposed intent of the artists themselves, but rather what Pater himself sees in them His A fine example of creative subversion Ostensibly a collection of critical essays addressing subjects such as Da Vinci, Bottecelli, Pico della Mirandolla, and others, Pater uses them to demonstrate his own aesthetic philosophy in practice a refined and subjective approach to the interpretation of creative expression What Pater reveals, in addition to a delightful command of the written word, is not the supposed intent of the artists themselves, but rather what Pater himself sees in them His theory is in stark contrast to the tradition of those which hold art to be defined and judged by certain universal criteria Pater s theory may be branded nihilistic and yet, if art is indeed a mirror, shouldn t we each see our own reflection in it

  10. says:

    In the early 90 s, I was reading a lot by and about James Joyce At some point I picked up a copy of Pater s The Renaissance, having learned that both Joyce and W.B Yeats praised the author s writing style There are some great passages here, along with some interesting readings of work by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Apart from its literary value, Pater s book should be of interest to art historians and critics, and to students and lovers of Renaissance art In the early 90 s, I was reading a lot by and about James Joyce At some point I picked up a copy of Pater s The Renaissance, having learned that both Joyce and W.B Yeats praised the author s writing style There are some great passages here, along with some interesting readings of work by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Apart from its literary value, Pater s book should be of interest to art historians and critics, and to students and lovers of Renaissance art

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