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The sketch illustrates a paradox central to Pater's sensibility and writings: a leaning towards ascetic beauty apprehended sensuously. These are not so much stories – plotting is limited and dialogue absent – as psychological studies of fictional characters in historical settings often personifications of new concepts at turning-points in the history of ideas or emotion. Having a particular temperament under review he would ask what was the range of forms in which it might find expression.
Walter Horatio Pater (4 August 1839 – 30 July 1894) was an English essayist critic of art and literature and writer of fiction.