The Dialectics of Sense and Spirit in Pater and Joyce
by Frank Moliterno

Modernist scholars have written a handful of comparative studies on Pater and Joyce. Frank Moliterno's The Dialectics of Sense and Spirit in Pater and Joyce is the first book-length exploration into the aesthetic development of these writers that underscores the importance of Pater in Joyce's works. Much of Pater's and Joyce's aesthetics evolves from the dialectical tension between the sensual and the spiritual. The Paterian-Joycean syntheses of basic antinomies--religion and sensuality, empiricism and idealism, Aristotelian mimesis and aestheticism--result in kindred theories of art. Moliterno's close analysis of how these syntheses emerge informs our reading of both writers in new ways.

His highly readable account of the intellectual affinity between the two authors searches their relationship and Joyce's potential debt to Pater. In four main chapters Moliterno discusses the transition of Pater and Joyce from priests to artists and the parallel ways they portray this process in fiction; traces the Paterian elements of the aesthetics of Stephen Dedalus and of the mature Joyce; compares Pater's epiphanies with Joyce's to reveal how Pater helped shaped the Joycean epiphany; and analyzes the similar epistemologies behind the development of Pater's and Joyce's aesthetics.

To some they may seem an odd match. Joyce, who sought to mirror the everyday lives of Dubliners through revolutionary literary techniques, appears to have little in common with Pater, the precious "father of aestheticism," precursor of Wilde and other aesthetes who detested the mimesis Joyce championed. As Moliterno's book reveals, however, Pater has more in common with Joyce in this regard than with the aesthetes of the fin de siècle. The scholarship thus far has underestimated Pater's influence on Joyce.

The Dialectics of Sense and Spirit in Pater and Joyce carefully discriminates connections between one of the late nineteenth century's most influential writers and the early twentieth century's master novelist. The book speaks to a wide audience of advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars who study Pater, Joyce, and modernism.

 

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$30.00   Cloth 192 pp.
1998   0-944318-11-8   Acid-Free Paper

No. 12 in the 1880-1920 British Authors Series

An E-Book from MUSE Editions Johns Hopkins University Press

 

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