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The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry
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The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  594 ratings  ·  26 reviews
'To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.'

The Renaissance (1873) at once became the touchstone for the decadent imagination for a generation of Oxford undergraduates. Pater was shocked at the reaction his book inspired: 'I wish they would not call me a hedonist, it gives such a wrong impression to those who do not know Gree
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Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1873)
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41st out of 151 books — 68 voters
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Community Reviews

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Kalliope



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, with more or less refining, the outward image; they are dramatic, not visionary painters.. But the genius of which Botticelli
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Geoff
”...the more liberal 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;
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Eric
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 ...more
Michael Young
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
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Bruce
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 ...more
S.D.
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 ...more
Diana
Sep 12, 2008 Diana rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: English/art students
Recommended to Diana by: University of Birmingham
This won't hold much appeal for those who haven't studied art or English at university level, but it is nonetheless quite interesting. It's technically a tribute to famous Renaissance artists, but I see it is more a manifesto of the aesthetic movement of the fin de siecle (sorry I can't put the accent in). I particularly enjoyed Pater's description of the Mona Lisa (it is arguably the work's most famous passage), and if I had my book handy I would copy it here. Alternatively, I will relate the o ...more
Jessica
"To regard all things and principles of things as inconstant modes or fashions has more and more become the tendency of modern thought. Let us begin with that which is without—our physical life. Fix upon it in one of its more exquisite intervals, the moment, for instance, of delicious recoil from the flood of water in summer heat. What is the whole physical life in that moment but a combination of natural elements to which science gives their names? But these elements, phosphorus and lime and de ...more
Wally
Go to a bookstore. Grab this book. Turn to the last three pages. Read them. Enjoy the new sparkle upon your every moment that it will give you. Unfortunately for a small number of you it might just depress you that your moments are not gem-like flames. But it's worth a shot.
Dan Crews
The style, the style, the style....I have heard that much of the information is incorrect. I really don't care. What he brings up in your mind when savoring the language you just can find anywhere else. If you like this read Imaginary Portraits.
Anna Maria
I defy anyone to read the Conclusion to this work and not feel the burning of a 'hard, gem-like flame'.
Rob
when academics still had (something like) a pulse.
matt


I'd only really known Pater through quotes and influence. I know he was a sacred text for the great Oscar and that there were a legion of louche, sybaritic Oxford undergrads back in the late-19th Century who venerated him...so far, so good.

I finally decided to pick this one up because if you've been thinking about a guy's shorter blurbs for a long enough time it behooves you, I think, to tackle a larger, more comprehensive text.

So I entered Pater's Latinate labyrinth of prose expecting somet
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Lucie García
I LOVED IT. Brilliantly written, contains insights on the most important artists from The Renaissance and also interesting theories on the movement being originated in France and not Italy. Easy to read, and The Conclusions are a new take (inspired by the lifes of the renaissance men) on the old "Carpe Diem" motto. Just, brilliant.
Alyson
Philosophiren, says Novalis, ist dephlegmatisiren vivificiren. The service of philosophy, of speculative culture, towards the human spirit is to rouse, to startle it into sharp and eager observation. Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive for us,—for that moment only. Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the en ...more
Meredith
Though Pater has some moments of brilliance, it seems I just can't champion obscure literary theory, no matter how revolutionary or eloquent. His mixture of fact, hearsay, and creative imagining was interesting but challenging to follow and focus on.
Micha
The final chapter of this book, only a few pages long, is really all that I think I needed to know of it. Oscar Wilde loved this book and studied under Pater, but of course what spoke to me was what spoke to everyone that read it: "To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life." I think I'm going to have to head over to Marius the Epicurean instead for more of that particular genre of singular Decadent heroes that my thesis has evolved into.
Dan
Pater’s book is a reading of the work of the artists of the Renaissance (Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti, etc.); many, including writers William Butler Yeats and James Joyce, were admirers of Pater’s abilities as a prose stylist.
C. Michael
Pater presents some good insights but there's much overwrought writing and his overly effete manner made for some tedious reading. Much of what is asserted must be taken on the authority of the writer alone; apparently he was convinced that if he expressed himself cleverly enough, then what he said must be true. Doesn't work that way for me.
Merinde
The writing is beautiful and I enjoyed most of it; some parts are however so obviously dated it wasn't that enjoyable anymore unless I read it as more of an inside view on 19th century ideas about art, or just for the beautiful prose than as a non-fiction work about Renaissance artists. I think that's probably the right way to read it anyway.
Pierette
Off to a good start...this should count as literature, too. Botticelli is his favorite artist - epitome of Renaissance art - hmm...
Stephanie Kelley
"To burn always with this hard gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life"
Zach
Perhaps the finest book I've read all year; easily one of the finest books I've ever read.
Kerrytusc
The Renaissance by Walter Pater (no date)
Jessica
Pater just makes me laugh. In a good way.
M. Dirgantara
M. Dirgantara marked it as to-read
Dec 24, 2014
Jordan
Jordan is currently reading it
Dec 23, 2014
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“To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.” 29 likes
“The way to perfection is through a series of disgusts” 6 likes
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