Selected Essays

Elizabeth Prettejohn writes:

Few authors of such historical importance have so high a proportion of their writings forgotten or neglected as Walter Pater. I used to think his essays on ancient sculpture the least studied portion of his work, but a glance at the bibliographies to Volumes III and IV of the new Collected Works suggests other candidates. Their editors have found little to cite on Pater’s short fiction, and there seems to be no secondary literature to speak of on his unfinished experimental novel Gaston de Latour. Alex Wong’s intelligent selection for Carcanet includes the obligatory essays on Leonardo (1869), Botticelli (1870) and Giorgione (1877), as well as the notorious conclusion to The Renaissance (1873), but those more familiar texts make up well under a third of a volume that moves from archaic sculpture and pre-Socratic philosophy to Pascal, Rossetti and Mérimée, and includes some distinctly obscure pieces, such as an essay on Thomas Browne which is a small-scale masterpiece.

(LRB 6 February 2020)