Pico della Mirandola

Ruthlessly skewering himself, Stephen imagines his writings being rediscovered "after a few thousand years, a mahamanvantara. Pico della Mirandola like." The thought seems to have been prompted by reading Walter Pater's late 19th century essay on the Italian Renaissance wunderkind philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-94), an essay which helped to revive interest in Pico's writings. Pater's prose probably lies behind Stephen's mocking language: "When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once..." The general idea, augmented by the Hindu concept of the mahamanvantara (a very, very, very long period of time), is that people in the distant future will recognize the genius of a writer who went unappreciated in the early 20th century.

JH 2018

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, painting by an unknown artist held in the Uffizi, Florence. Source: www.newworldencyclopedia.org.

Walter Pater, "from a group taken at Brasenose" (Bransenose College, Oxford), in an image of unknown provenance reproduced in Thomas Wright's The Life of Walter Pater (1907). Source: Wikimedia Commons.