“NOT THE FRUIT OF EXPERIENCE, BUT EXPERIENCE ITSELF, IS THE END”: HANDSOMELY BOUND FIRST EDITION SET OF WALTER PATER’S WORKS
PATER, Walter. Studies in the History of the Renaissance. WITH: Marius the Epicurean. WITH: Imaginary Portraits. WITH: Appreciations, With an Essay on Style. WITH: Plato and Platonism. WITH: Greek Studies. WITH: Miscellaneous Studies. WITH: Gaston de Latour. London and New York: MacMillan, 1873-96. Together, nine volumes. Octavo, contemporary full polished tan calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, brown morocco spine labels, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut. $2800.
First editions, uniformly and handsomely bound by Zaehnsdorf.
The 19th-century humanist Walter Pater espoused the doctrine of “art for art’s sake” (later embraced by William Butler Yeats who founded the Rhymers’ Club to promote this aesthetic ideal). “In 1866 Pater’s first essay in composition, a fragment on Coleridge, was published in the Westminster Review… Then followed the series which possess a potent and peculiar charm, the characteristic ‘Notes on Lionardo da Vinci… the ‘Fragment on Sandro Botticelli… the ‘Pico della Mirandula… and the ‘Michelangelo… In 1873 most of these and others were published together in the memorable volume originally entitled Studies in the History of the Renaissance… Always engaged in literary labour, his procedure was nevertheless so slow and so complicated that twelve years elapsed between the publication of his first book and his second… Marius the Epicurean… Pater’s most valuable legacy to literature. It is written to illustrate the highest ideal of the aesthetic life… Modern humanism has produced no more admirable product than this noble dream of a pursuit through life of the spirit of heavenly beauty” (DNB XV:459). Then followed Imaginary Portraits, four short philosophic romances; Appreciations, critical studies on Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, Thomas Browne, Shakespeare and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; and Plato and Platonism, a series of college lectures. The three final works, Greek Studies, Miscellaneous Studies and the unfinished romance Gaston de Latour, were published posthumously. Greek Studies with frontispiece portrait. Armorial bookplates of railroad industrialist, noted New York yachting enthusiast and leading philanthropist Arthur Curtiss James.
Scattered light foxing, light dampstaining to frontispiece portrait and title page of Greek Studies. Minor expert restoration to handsome contemporary calf.