Walter Horatio Pater (PAY-tur) was born in London on August 4, 1839. Having attended King’s School in Canterbury and graduated with a B.A. degree from Queen’s College, Oxford, he was made Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, from which he received his M.A. degree in 1865. He was connected with this college in some capacity during most of the rest of his life. During vacations he often traveled on the Continent. He died at Oxford after a brief illness, on July 30, 1894.
Much of Pater’s literary output consisted of critical essays on aesthetic subjects, most of which were collected in such works as Studies in the History of the Renaissance and Appreciations: With an Essay on Style. Critics have spoken of his sensual approach to art, and some are bothered by a certain subjective impressionism in his criticism. Pater also wrote a few romances, the most famous of which is Marius the Epicurean. There is a relation between these romances and his critical works, because in the romances he seems to advocate that life itself be approached as an art. Through elaborate sentences with delicate shadings he worked continually for perfection of expression in his prose style. Although Pater spent most of his life in academic seclusion, he had a profound influence on a group of perceptive younger artists and critics.
Sources for Further Study
Bloom, Harold, ed. Walter Pater. New York: Chelsea House, 1985....
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