The "Conclusion" to The Renaissance advises the responsive critic to consider carefully "the various forms of intellectual activity which together make up the culture of an age." Walter Pater: Transparencies of Desire brings together twenty-one varied, contentious, informative essays that confirm Pater's ongoing power to captivate and challenge readers.

The interdisciplinary breadth of the collection demonstrates that the critical culture of Pater studies is always multifaceted—inviting diverse theoretical perspectives yet also demanding that any paradigm of analysis (feminist, new historicist, aesthetic, queer theory, formalist, biographical, Foucauldian) be tested and redefined.

Scholars from five different countries reconsider Pater's career and canon, the reception of his works, the intersections of genre, gender, and aesthetics, and the implications of Pater's writings—in aesthetics, fiction, philosophy, archaeology, art history—for contemporary cultural studies.