Dialectics of Sense and Spirit
The Dialectics of Sense and Spirit in Pater and Joyce

The Dialectics of Sense and Spirit in Pater and Joyce


Modernist scholars have written a handful of comparative studies on Peter and Joyce. This work is the first book-length exploration into the aesthetic development of these writers that underscores the importance of Pater's work 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 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 artist 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 shape the Joycean epiphany; and analyses 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 in Pater, the precious "father of aestheticism", precursor of Wilde and other aesthete who detested the mimesis Joyce championed. As Moliterno's book reveals, Pater has more in common with Joyce in this regard than with the aesthetes of the fin de siècle.

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.

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