Walter Pater: Imaginary Portraits

(2653 words)

The expression “imaginary portrait” was coined by Walter Pater in 1878, when it appeared in a letter he sent to George Grove, editor of Macmillan's Magazine, to describe his original experiment in creative fiction, the short story “Imaginary Portraits 1. The Child in the House”. Hitherto Pater had published art criticism with Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) – something of a success de scandal – as well as essays on literature, philosophy and mythology. In “The Child in the House” he reproduced the impressionistic approach of his criticism to create an autobiographically-based tale in which action is interiorised and dialogue nonexistent. Proustian ante l…

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Bizzotto, Elisa. "Imaginary Portraits". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 October 2007
[, accessed 01 July 2015.]