Yes! It was the one instance Marius, always eagerly on the look-out for such, had yet seen of a perfectly tolerable, perfectly beautiful, old age-an old age in which there seemed, to one who perhaps habitually over-valued the expression of youth, nothing to be regretted, nothing really lost, in what years had taken away.-from Marius the EpicureanWith his thoughtful sensibility and appreciation of the artistic experience, Walter Pater exerted a dramatic influence over the Aesthetics of the mid to late 19th century: a movement of creative intellectuals, from writer Oscar Wilde to painter James McNeill Whistler, who held that art should be sensual and beauty the highest ideal. Pater's "cult of beauty" also profoundly affected 20th-century arts, literary, and cultural criticism.Here, in his only novel, a forerunner to the works of James Joyce first published in 1885, Pater takes us on one young man's personal journey from paganism to Christianity in ancient Rome, a didactic work in which Pater explores the role of religion in culture and in art and celebrates the aestheticism he championed in his criticism.Also available from Cosimo Classics: Pater's The Renaissance.British essayist and critic WALTER HORATIO PATER (1839-1894) was educated at Oxford University. He also wrote Imaginary Portraits (1887), Appreciations (1889), and the posthumously published Greek Studies (1895).
WITH the world of intellectual production, as with that of organic generation, nature makes no sudden starts. Natura nihil facit per saltum; and in the history of philosophy there are no absolute beginnings. Fix where we may the origin of this or that doctrine or idea, the doctrine of "reminiscence," for instance, or of "the perpetual flux," the theory of "induction," or the philosophic view of things generally, the specialist will still be able to find us some earlier anticipation of that doctrine, that mental tendency. The most elementary act of mental analysis takes time to do; the most rudimentary sort of speculative knowledge, abstractions so simple that we can hardly conceive the human mind without them, must grow, and with difficulty. Philosophy itself, mental and moral, has its preparation, its forethoughts, in the poetry that preceded it. A powerful generalisation thrown into some salient phrase, such as that of Heraclitus—"Panta rei," all things fleet away—may startle a particular age by its novelty, but takes possession only because all along its root was somewhere among the natural though but half- developed instincts of the human mind itself.
There is surely something of "natural magic" in that! The wilder capacity of the mountains is brought out especially in a weird story of a haunted girl, an episode well illustrating the writer's more imaginative psychological power; for, in spite of its quiet general tenour, the book has its adroitly managed elements of sensation---- witness the ghost, in which the average human susceptibility to supernatural terrors takes revenge on the sceptical Mr. Wendover, and the love-scene with Madame de Netteville, which, like those other exciting passages, really furthers the development of the proper ethical interests of the book.