Aestheticism and the Philosophy of Death: Walter Pater and Post- Hegelianism

Overview

Walter Pater, best known as the author of The Renaissance (1873) and as Oscar Wild's tutor and friend, was a leading figure in European aestheticism and British fin-de-stècle culturs. Despite this, he has received only limited critical attention, and has tended to be read conservatively. Drawing on Pater's unpublished manuscripts, Giles Whiteley challenges this view of Pater as a closeted don who spent the remainder of his life regretting the excesses of his Renaissance. Focusing on Pater's reading of the German ...

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Overview

Walter Pater, best known as the author of The Renaissance (1873) and as Oscar Wild's tutor and friend, was a leading figure in European aestheticism and British fin-de-stècle culturs. Despite this, he has received only limited critical attention, and has tended to be read conservatively. Drawing on Pater's unpublished manuscripts, Giles Whiteley challenges this view of Pater as a closeted don who spent the remainder of his life regretting the excesses of his Renaissance. Focusing on Pater's reading of the German idealist philosopher, G. W. F. Hegel, Whiteley argues that Pater's response to both the philosophical and the idelogical legacies of idealism was significantly more advanced than has been hitherto thought. Presenting a persuasive new reading of the genre of the imaginary portrait Pater's most elusive form of writing-the book paints a picture of Walter Pater as a truly revolutionary thinker. Pater, like Nietzsche during the same period, breaks with the dialectic as a method. Anticipating the radical critiques of ideology of post-Hegelians such as Derrida and Deleuze, Pater becomes a radical and transgressive thinker in his own right.

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Editorial Reviews

Modern Language Review - Stefano Evangelista
Scholars have long been aware of the importance of acknowledging Pater's debt to Hegelian philosophy. And many critics of Pater have performed almost obligatory nods towards Hegel's influence, conceptualized in vague terms, without formulating an understanding of its precise forms. Such critics will now have to engage seriously with Aestheticism and the Philosophy of Death, which contains the most scholarly and detailed account of Pater's Hegelianism to date.
Forum for Modern Language Studies - unsigned notice
In this meticulously researched monograph Giles Whiteley sets himself the expansive task of reading Pater's entire intellectual project as an extended conversation with Hegel... the case is well made that Pater should be considered a proto-poststructuralist thinker.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Abbreviations x

Introduction: Pater's Reading and Rereading of Hegel 1

Reading and Rereading Hegel: 'Reconsideration' and Ressentiment 2

Rereading the Rereading: Hegel's 'Radical Dualism1 and the Philosophy of Death 5

Rereading the Readings of Pater: Christianity and the Oedipus Complex 8

Pater's Post-Hegelianism and the Question of Method 11

1 The Hegelian Structure of Pater's 'Reconsidered'Aestheticism 21

Idealism and Subject-Object Identity 22

Phenomenology 23

The Sensible Appearance of the Idea and the Death of Art 24

The Unpublished Manuscript on Moral Philosophy 27

Pater's Sittlich Aestheticism and Francis Herbert Bradley's Ethical Studies 30

Mutual Recognition and the Greater Reason 31

The Structure of Pater's Aestheticism 34

Aestheticism and Semiology 36

Pater's Architectural Analogy and Aesthetic Structuralism 40

Aestheticism as the Death of Art 42

2 The Philosophy of (the Impossibility of) Death 49

The Life of Spirit and the Philosophy of Death 50

Sacrifice and the Master-Slave Dialectic 53

Hegel's Speculation 56

Subjective Immortality and the 'Dialectical Overcoming' of Death 58

Absolute Negativity and Abstract Negativity 60

Hegel's 'Radical Dualism' 62

Pater against the Dialectic 64

The Moment and Instant of Death 68

3 The Imaginary Portraits 77

Pater, Emerson, Nietzsche 77

The Genre of the Imaginary Portrait 79

'The Child in the House': Homeliness, Nostalgia, and the Hegelian Pyramid 81

'A Prince of Court Painters': The Idea against Life 85

'Sebastian van Storck': Schopenhauer as the Truth of Hegel 89

'Denys L'Auxerrois': The Dionysian as the Affirmation of Difference 93

'Duke Carl of Rosenmold': The Restricted Economy and the Culture of Death 101

The Imaginary Portraits and the Genealogy 103

4 Autobiography and the Writing Of Death 117

Hegelian Autobiography and Literary Immortality 118

Pater and Benjamin on the Task of the Translator 119

The Limits of Autobiography and the Hegelian Subject 121

Autobiography as Thanatography 124

Aborted Narratives 125

'Emerald Uthwart': The Instant of Death 126

'Apollo in Picardy': Madness and the Failure of Hegelian Semiology 130

The History of Writing Deconstructively 134

Conclusion: The Ideology of Aestheticism 141

Hegelianism and Ideology 142

The New Aestheticism 145

Aestheticism and Fascism 147

The Diaphaneitè and Difference 148

Bibliography 155

Index 169

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