4th Giorgio Melchiori memorial Lecture

paterjoycecartoonProfessor Carolyn Williams of Rutgers University delivered the 4th annual Giorgio Melchiori lecture on 7 December. Her talk was entitled “After Aestheticism: Walter Pater to James Joyce“. Professor Williams challenged traditional readings of Pater and showed how Pater’s aestheticism was not about a cult of beauty but was deeply rooted both historically and epistemologically. She traced a line from Locke and Hume through Pater down to the modernists in their treatments of how impressions succeed each other in the mind. Pater’s view of the life of the mind was founded on a late romantic understanding. She showed how both Pater and Joyce focussed on the privileged moment of intense apprehension (borrowing from Wordworth’s “spots of time, that with distinct pre-eminence retain/ a renovating virtue”. She stressed the importance of Pater for Joyce’s asethetics and for his prose style (especially in A Portrait) (quoting T.S. Eliot who told Virginia Woolf that Joyce  “is founded upon Walter Pater with a dash of Newman”. In Williams’ view Pater wrote the first great modernist “unreadable” work – Marius the Epicurian and  she delivered a close reading of Marius’ achievement of the privileged moment,  his epiphany which also informs Joyce’s later use of the same form. seminario-7-12-2016



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