The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater

'To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.'

The Renaissance (1873) at once became the touchstone for the decadent imagination for a generation of Oxford undergraduates. Pater was shocked at the reaction his book inspired: 'I wish they would not call me a hedonist, it gives such a wrong impression to those who do not know Greek.'.
The book had begun as a series of idiosyncratic, impressionistic critical essays on those artists that embodied for him the spirit of the Renaissance; by collecting them and adding his infamous Conclusion, Pater gained a reputation as a daring modern philosopher. But The Renaissance survives as one of the most innovative pieces of cultural criticism to emerge from the nineteenth century.

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