The Rhetorical Use of Provocation as a Means of Persuasion in the Writings of Walter Pater (1839-1894), English Essayist and Cultural Critic: Pater as Controversialist

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This work explores Pater’s work as a public act undertaken to persuade his readers. Rather than thematic analysis or psychological speculation, it argues that Pater is more profitably approached by examining how his style worked to win over the public and by looking at the views he sought to challenge.


“. . . will be essential reading for anyone interested in Pater and, as a collection, it makes a central contribution to Pater studies.” – Prof. Sheridan Gilley, Durham University

“. . . set to prove itself an indispensable book in modern English Literary criticism, North Atlantic cultural history and modern intellectual history, to mention but three fields it greatly improves.” – Prof. Owen Dudley, University of Edinburgh

"... explores aspects and passages of Pater's work is rewarding. He is sometimes excellent at analysing Pater's sentence structure and his very choice of word. ... [the Author]'s style is strong and clear. Part of this pleasure derives from his evident reverence for Pater. ... Fundamentally, the work is a defense that Pater's style is essentially the product of a fine intellect, and not the superficial reveries of an irresponsible stylist." -- Dr. Adam Lee, Jesus College Oxford University

John Coates’s recent study on Walter Pater reads as the criticism of one long acquainted with his subject... Each essay gives the felicitous impression of analysis begun enthusiastically, taken up from various angles on different texts with renewed energy. This same method is a strength in some of Pater’s own volumes... As Coates moves chronologically through Pater’s career he portions off particular passages and treats them with such care and closeness that it leaves the impression of actually reading Pater...Pater as Controversialist will increase and clarify the understanding of Pater both for newcomers and those already familiar with him... Coates’s own style is strong and clear and pleasurable to read... In all Pater as Controversialist is a welcome volume to Pater criticism because it asks many questions about Pater’s work and how we approach it today.
-The British Journal of Aesthetics 2011
"The value of this book lies in the patience with which it contextualises Pater’s intellectual positions and follows the involutions of this thought within given texts. A sincere appreciation for Pater as both a thinker and a stylist suffuses the writing, and Coates exemplifies the virtue he most admires in Pater: critical tact... ( Coates’ ) image of Pater produces many beautiful readings of his work.... This book provides a richly detailed and thoughtful study of the “late” Pater of “merciful second thoughts”.... The intellectual contexts provided by Coates are often interesting in themselves and bring the distinctiveness of Pater’s own sensibility into focus."
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