E212 Walter Pater Questions

Walter Pater Study Questions, Conclusion to the Renaissance, English 212 British Literature since 1760, Summer 2008, Alfred J. Drake at California State University, Fullerton.

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Assigned: "Conclusion" to The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (Norton 1510-13).

Of Interest: Author Image | Author Image, Younger | Literary History | DMOZ Links | Victorian Web | The Renaissance, 1873 Edition

"Conclusion" to The Renaissance

1. On 1511-12, how do the first three paragraphs of the Conclusion describe the "tendency of modern thought"? What examples of that tendency does Pater set forth, and in what order? What rhetorical aim does the order in which he offers them seem designed to achieve?

2. On 1512-13, how does Pater characterize the purpose of philosophy, define "success in life," and then elaborate on that definition and its implications for those who want to live as fully as possible? What does he suggest about the value of art in this quest, and about art's relationship to other areas of life?

3. On 1511-13, consider Pater's style -- he says in the Preface that a critic must distill the "active virtue" operative across a large section of a given author's work. To the limited extent possible given the present selection, apply that rule to Pater: what is the active virtue at work in the Conclusion, and how do specific features of Pater's style enhance his message?

4. General Question: When Pater first published Studies in the History of the The Renaissance in 1873, some thought the Conclusion scandalous, and Pater withdrew it in at least one of several subsequent editions. Why might this aesthetic peroration have been considered morally dangerous by some Victorian readers? What sort of audience do you think might find Pater's aesthetic program appealing?

Edition: Abrams, M. H. et al., eds. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 8th ed. Vol. E. New York: Norton, 2006. ISBN Package 2 (Vols. DEF) 0-393-92834-9.