Walter Pater, fully Walter Horatio Pater

Pater, fully Walter Horatio Pater

English Essayist, Critic of Art and Literature and Writer of Fiction

Author Quotes

Art is self-sufficient and need serve no moral or political purpose.

We need some imaginative stimulus, some not impossible ideal such as may shape vague hope, and transform it into effective desire, to carry us year after year, without disgust, through the routine-work which is so large a part of life.

Books are a refuge, a kind of monastic retreat that keep us from the vulgarities of the world today

But when reflexion begins to play upon these objects... like some trick of magic each object is loosed into a group of impressions - color, odor, texture... And if we continue to dwell in thought on this world... the whole scope of observation is dwarfed into the narrow chamber of the individual mind.

Every intellectual product must be judged from the point of view of the age and the people in which it was produced.

Every moment some form grows perfect in hand or face; some tone on the hills or the sea is choicer than the rest; some mood of passion or insight or intellectual excitement is irresistibly real and attractive for us - for that moment only.

For with this desire of physical beauty mingled itself early the fear of death?the fear of death intensified by the desire of beauty.

He was always a seeker after something in the world that is there in no satisfying measure, or not at all.

Hers is the head upon which all ?the ends of the world are come,? and the eyelids are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how would they be troubled by this beauty, into which the soul with all its maladies has passed? She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave; and has been a diver in deep seas, and keeps their fallen day about her; and trafficked for strange webs with Eastern merchants: and, as Leda, was the mother of Helen of Troy, and, as Saint Anne, the mother of Mary; and all this has been to her but as the sound of lyres and flutes, and lives only in the delicacy with which it has moulded the changing lineaments, and tinged the eyelids and the hands.

It might even be said that our failure is to form habits: for, after all, habit is relative to a stereotyped world, and meantime it is only the roughness of the eye that makes two persons, things, situations, seem alike.

Legions of grotesques sweep under his hand; for has not nature too her grotesques?the rent rock, the distorting lights of evening on lonely roads, the unveiled structure of man in the embryo, or the skeleton?

Rousseau ? asked himself how he might make as much as possible of the interval that remained; and he was not biassed by anything in his previous life when he decided that it must be by intellectual excitement.

The Renaissance of the fifteenth century was, in many things, great rather by what it designed then by what it achieved.

A book, like a person, has its fortunes with one; is lucky or unlucky in the precise moment of its falling in our way, and often by some happy accident counts with us for something more than its independent value.

The way to perfection is through a series of disgusts.

A sudden light transfigures a trivial thing, a weather-vane, a windmill, a winnowing flail, the dust in the barn door; a moment - and the thing has vanished, because it was pure effect; but it leaves a relish behind it, a longing that the accident may happen again.

The younger, certainly, had to the full that charm of a constitutional freshness of aspect which may defy for a long time extravagant or erring habits of life; a physiognomy healthy-looking, cleanly, and firm, which seemed unassociable with any form of self-tormenting, and made one think of the nozzle of some young hound or roe, such as human beings invariably like to stroke?with all the goodliness, that is, of the finer sort of animalism, though still wholly animal. It was the charm of the blond head, the unshrinking gaze, the warm tints:?neither more nor less than one may see every English summer, in youth, manly enough, and with the stuff in it which makes brave soldiers, in spite of the natural kinship it seems to have with playthings and gay flowers.

All art aspires to the condition of music.

The youngest of four sons, but not the youngest of the family!?you conceive the sort of negligence that creeps over even the kindest maternities, in such case ...

Analysis goes a step farther still, and assures us that those impressions of the individual mind to which, for each one of us, experience dwindles down, are in perpetual flight; that each of them is limited by time, and that as time is infinitely divisible, each of them is infinitely divisible also; all that is actual in it being a single moment, gone while we try to apprehend it, of which it may ever be more truly said that it has ceased to be than that it is. To such a tremulous wisp constantly reforming itself on the stream, to a single sharp impression, with a sense in it, a relic more or less fleeting, of such moments gone by, what is real in our life fines itself down.

To the modern spirit nothing is, or can be rightly known, except relatively and under conditions.

How shall we pass most swiftly; from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy? To maintain this ecstasy is success in life.

The aim of a true philosophy must lie, not in futile efforts towards the complete accommodation of man to circumstances in which he chances to find himself, but in the maintenance of a kind of candid discontent, in the face of the very highest achievement.

I hope we don't lose in America this demand that those of us who want this office must be prepared not to handle the 10-second gimmick that deals, say, with little things like war and peace.

The ideal examples of poetry and painting being those in which the constituent elements of the composition are so welded together, that the material or subject no longer strikes the intellect only; nor the form, the eye or the ear only; but form and matter, in their union or identity, present one single effect.

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Pater, fully Walter Horatio Pater
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English Essayist, Critic of Art and Literature and Writer of Fiction