Pater's Portraits: The Aesthetic Hero in 1890 (Part II)

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Gerald Monsman

Abstract

In conjunction with Walter Pater’s unfinished manuscript, “Gaudioso, the Second,” recently published in Expositions (2008, 83-101), a second manuscript fragment from among Pater’s papers is now also printed here for the first time: “Tibalt the Albigense” (circa 1890). Not long after Pater began research for his never-finished second novel, Gaston de Latour (1888/1995), he simultaneously began reading for his imaginary portrait of “Tibalt,” dealing with the prelude to the bloody Albigensian crusade. Like Gaston, “Tibalt” was to be set in France against the turbulent background of religious warfare. But in contrast to the brutality of sectarian slaughter, Pater elevates aesthetic experience to a mystical and Platonically mythic level of enchantment. From his first aesthetic portrait,“The Child in the House” (1878)–a defense of his aestheticism in Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873)–to “Tibalt the Albigense,” Pater’s fascination with the transformative power of beauty and its entanglements at the turning-points of religious/cultural history is the major thrust of all his writings.

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Gerald Monsman

Gerald Monsman is a professor of English at the University of Arizona. A specialist in nineteenth-century British and Anglo-African literature, he has edited H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines (2002) and Walter Pater’s Gaston de Latour (1995). His many scholarly books include Pater’s Portraits: Mythic Pattern in the Fiction of Walter Pater (1967), Walter Pater’s Art of Autobiography (1980), Olive Schreiner’s Fiction (1991), and Oxford University’s Old Mortality Society (1998).