The dialectics of sense and spirit in Pater and Joyce

Frank Robert Moliterno, Fordham University


The dissertation explores the intellectual kinship and parallel development of Pater and Joyce. The work also notes signs of Pater's influence on the Irish novelist. A pervasive element in the work of both figures is the dialectical resolution of sense/spirit antinomies. These categories include sensuality and spirituality, empiricism and idealism, and mimetic and aesthetic art.^ Chapter 1. "Introduction", discusses previous comparative studies on the two figures and examines the importance of Pater's The Renaissance (1873) in Joyce's work. The chapter also outlines the dialectical framework of my inquiry. This framework is partly based on Hegel; however, most of the sense/spirit antinomies are analogous to Hegel but are not entirely Hegelian.^ Chapter 2. "The Secular Religion", discusses the dialectic between religion and sensuality. The chapter discusses how the two writers' autobiographical protagonists move from asceticism to sensual experience and aestheticism. A synthesis between spirituality and sensuality is present in their artistic theories, leading to an aesthetic that consists of religious metaphors.^ Chapter 3. "Stephen's Aesthetics and Pater", explores the importance of Pater in Part V of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). Aspects of Stephen's three-part theory of aesthetic apprehension invoke Pater. Overall, the chapter considers the extent to which Stephen is a "pseudo-Paterian," an aesthete who, like some of his Dublin contemporaries, misread Pater and forged a life-denying aesthetic. It also considers what is genuinely Paterian (and Joycean) about Stephen's theories on art.^ Chapter 4. "Joyce's Epiphanies and Pater", compares Pater's epiphanies to Joyce's. Epiphanies occur when a trivial incident produces a "spiritual manifestation." Like several elements in their aesthetics, I argue that the epiphany is a secularized form of spiritual experience. I hold that Joyce's Stephen Dedalus often experiences "pseudo-epiphanies:" moments of aesthetic solipsism, for Pater and Joyce imply that epiphanies lead one to the discovery of identity and engage one with the sensorium. ^

Subject Area

Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Moliterno, Frank Robert, "The dialectics of sense and spirit in Pater and Joyce" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9613860.