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Tombs, Despoiled and Haunted
'Under-textures' and 'After-thoughts' in Walter Pater
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Walter Pater poses to criticism the challenge of how to approach a writer who is neither entirely a novelist, nor entirely a critic, nor entirely a historian, but each by turn. This book demonstrates the unity of all Pater's roles through the concept of linguistic consciousness.
The metaphor of depth is fully appropriate - the author mines Pater's language for the little, concrete, nitty-gritty linguistic details that usually escape readers. He also reveals a basic bifurcation in Paterian origins, showing how Paterian 'presence' - whether of the self, phenomena, or even texts - is always an 'after-thought', an echo that requires an original it cannot retrieve. The style of the work is as noteworthy as its method. The author provides splendid analyses of particular Paterian passages and works, but his ultimate goal is more ambitious. Like the Geneva-school critics Georges Poulet and Albert Beguin, the author holds that to write about an author is to identify with the consciousness of that author - an act of appropriation that turns reading into a personal spiritual adventure, a quest, and that enables the critic creatively to extrapolate from his author's mode of consciousness. The book creates a new optics for viewing Pater by creating a structure at once analogous to and obliquely, enlighteningly different from Pater's own works. It occupies a liminal ground between sympathetic and creative criticism.<
|Publisher||Stanford University Press|
|Published in||United States|
Foreword J. Hillis Miller
A note on sources
Part I. Toward Circumferential Mania: 1. Origins, originality, and transumptive \'afterthoughts\'
2. The prose architecture of mental adobes: the presence of inhabitable language
3. The centrifugal and the centripetal
Part II. Toward Luminous Excavations: 4. \'Abysmal dilemmas\': \'The night of the quasi-sleep\': Pater\'s oneiric withdrawing ground