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Marius the Epicurean (Penguin Classics) Paperback – January 7, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0140432367 ISBN-10: 0140432361

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (January 7, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432367
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,425,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

English essayist, critic and humanist, Pater is best remembered as an innovator in aesthetics. He wrote several novels, essays and articles. His style is famous for its precision, subtlety, and refinement. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Skowronski on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Pater was one of the most insightful and exacting critics of England, and his fiction exceeded even his own standards for beauty. Marius the Epicurean is the story of a young man's spiritual and aesthetic awakening in ancient Rome. He journeys from Stoicism to Cyrenaicism to Epicureanism, and finally to Christianity. The book is subtle and profound, and is written in Pater's characteristically lovely prose. I do not recommend this book to anyone who wants a traditional linear plot in which the protagonist is motivated by external events; rather, I recommend it to all who wish "to burn with a hard, gemlike flame," to all who make careful aesthetic contemplation their highest goal.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "guillaume186" on April 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Why does no one read Pater these days? He writes with the fervid delicate beauty of a butterfly defying the storms of winter. As literature becomes ever more commercialised, this sensual celebration seems even more important. A pleasure every bit as sensual and refreshing as a Turkish bath.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By reading man on March 29, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're interested in Walter Pater, thjs is required reading, but to the average literate reader I predict it would be a slog of unrelieved boredom.

Pater's better experienced as an essayist, even though it's easy to grow weary of both his style and his "ideas".

He's an important figure in the history of English literature, however, much more important than Wilde, who has more admirers but less literary substance. W.H. Auden once characterized Wilde as a "playboy" rather than a serious writer, and that is a little severe, but he certainly is less significant than Pater in the history of English Aestheticism.
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16 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Steven Larsen on July 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
One reviewer asks, "Why does no one read Pater these days? He writes with the fervid delicate beauty of a butterfly defying the storms of wind". Perhaps that quote says it all. Yes , it is a beautiful book in its own way, but that torturous, flowery style of writing was swept away by the modernist tide long ago. Who has time for it?

This book often appears on lists of the "worst written books ever", next to the works of Bulwer-Lytton. I can understand why. When I first picked it up I couldn't get past the first two pages. Pater goes on and on and goes nowhere. For the next four days I tried many times to read it, each time I just groaned a few pages in and tossed the book aside. It wan't till the end of the week that I finally got the hang of Pater's style. I eventually finished the book and was glad I did because I really did enjoy the story and also because of the fact that I was finished with it. Mixed feelings.

If you enjoy the decorative style of this era , then by all means buy this book. Avoid otherwise.
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14 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Michael Huggins on October 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
To think that I intended for years to read this book! I've slogged through the first ten chapters, and it's a chore to continue.

The novel purports to be a history of the interior life of a member of the rural Roman gentry in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Not for one moment do I believe that I am reading the history of the thoughts or feelings of a Roman. What it actually is, is a transcript of the hothouse fantasies of a late-Victorian aesthete imagining how neat it would have been if he and his effete friends had been walking around in all those villas, wearing flowing togas. The narrator's story is so suffocatingly self-involved, and takes so many words to say what could be said in about ten words or less, that you find yourself longing for a car chase or an explosion, unfortunately impossible in the age of the Antonines.

I have just encountered one of the biggest howlers of all, a brief episode in which Marius's new friend, Cornelius, a military tribune, passes the time by showing off to Marius every bit of his military gear. How completely asinine. Show me a Roman soldier who ever did such a thing, and I'll eat my hat.

It's ironic that I've come to this book immediately after finishing "Quo Vadis." Now *there* was a book in which, when I read about the elegant, cynical aesthete, Petronius, I believed that I was reading a likely characterization of a recognizable human type, who really could have existed in Imperial Rome. Marius, by contrast, is so busy fondly inspecting his own interior mental state that I'm amazed he notices the outside world at all.
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