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Dearest Papa

Richard Altick, 1 September 1983

The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin 
edited by George Allan Cate.
Stanford, 251 pp., $28.50, August 1982, 0 8047 1114 3
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Ruskin Today 
by Kenneth Clark.
Penguin, 363 pp., £2.95, October 1982, 0 14 006326 9
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John RuskinLetters from the Continent 1858 
edited by John Hayman.
Toronto, 207 pp., £19.50, December 1982, 0 8020 5583 4
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... Toward the end of their correspondence, which spanned years 1851-79, John Ruskin, who hitherto had addressed Thomas Carlyle more or less in terms of deferential formality (‘Dear Mr Carlyle’), suddenly shifted to ‘Dearest Papa’, signing himself ‘Ever your loving disciple-son’. Whatever the immediate reasons for the change, it simply made explicit Ruskin’s steady conception of his relation to Carlyle, the older man by 24 years ...

Ruskin among others

Raymond Williams, 20 June 1985

John RuskinThe Early Years 
by Tim Hilton.
Yale, 301 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 300 03298 6
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... in the early 1960s,’ Mr Hilton writes, ‘I was asked to understand that an interest in Ruskin was as foolish as an enthusiasm for modern art.’ This is incomprehensible, until it is observed from the cover note that Mr Hilton was at Oxford. Even so, either he was very unlucky or this is an example of that interesting and recurrent phenomenon in ...

Old Lecturer of Incalculable Age

Dinah Birch: John Ruskin, 10 August 2000

John RuskinThe Later Years 
by Tim Hilton.
Yale, 656 pp., £20, March 2000, 0 300 08311 4
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... Tim Hilton’s foreword to the concluding volume of his biography of Ruskin is intimate and magisterial in a way that would seem presumptuous in anyone else. But Hilton has worked with Ruskin since the early 1960s and no one has a deeper understanding of either him or his writing ...

Past Masters

Raymond Williams, 25 June 1987

Joachim of Fiore and the Myth of the Eternal Evangel in the 19th Century 
by Marjorie Reeves and Warwick Gould.
Oxford, 365 pp., £35, March 1987, 0 19 826672 3
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Beauty and Belief: Aesthetics and Religion in Victorian Literature 
by Hilary Fraser.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £25, January 1987, 0 521 30767 8
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The Correspondence of John Ruskin and Charles Eliot Norton 
edited by John Bradley and Ian Ousby.
Cambridge, 537 pp., £45, April 1987, 0 521 32091 7
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... and ‘art’. Hilary Fraser’s book, and the new edition of correspondence between Ruskin and Norton, illuminate elements of this long and unfinished interaction. It is interesting that neither Ruskin nor Carlyle seems to have known this particular heterodox tradition of absolute spiritual ...

Under Rose’s Rule

Tim Hilton, 3 April 1980

John Ruskin and Rose La Touche: Her Unpublished Diaries of 1861 and 1867 
edited by Van Akin Burd.
Oxford, 192 pp., £6.95, January 1980, 0 19 812633 6
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... It was in the winter of 1929 that the young American scholar Helen Gill Viljoen went to Brantwood, Ruskin’s old home on Coniston Water, to pursue her postgraduate researches. In that dilapidated building, stripped of its more saleable treasures but housing still a wealth of manuscript material, she worked for some weeks: unsupervised, but advised by W ...

Cry Treedom

Jonathan Bate, 4 November 1993

Forests: The shadow of Civilisation 
by Robert Pogue Harrison.
Chicago, 288 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 226 31806 0
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... paying a price for it in the form of global warming, acid rain and so forth. Over a century ago, John Ruskin was arguing that Cartesian (‘modern’) thought had destroyed man’s reverence and wonder in the face of the external world, and that the death of God-in-nature would eventually bring the end of nature. Gore’s book is squarely in this ...

Unquiet Deaths

Patrick Parrinder, 3 September 1987

Two Lives and a Dream 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Walter Kaiser.
Aidan Ellis, 245 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 85628 160 3
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The Wedding at Port-au-Prince 
by Hans Christoph Buch, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Faber, 259 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 571 14928 6
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Saints and Scholars 
by Terry Eagleton.
Verso, 145 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 86091 180 2
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Imperial Patient: The Memoirs of Nero’s Doctor 
by Alex Comfort.
Duckworth, 206 pp., £10.95, June 1987, 0 7156 2168 8
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... According to John Ruskin, ‘in the work of the great masters death is always either heroic, deserved, or quiet and natural.’ Not so in Marguerite Yourcenar’s world. She is renowned for her timeless narrative gift and lucid style, and she regards her books as defining that unfashionable thing, an ‘ideal of humanity ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: ‘Parallel Lives’, 2 April 2020

... private lives considered are those of Jane Welsh and Thomas Carlyle; Effie Gray and John Ruskin; Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill; Catherine Hogarth and Charles Dickens; George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. This is the form in which Rose presents the couples, with the women taking precedence and ...

Seeing through Fuller

Nicholas Penny, 30 March 1989

Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... spiritualist scribbles and to computer sculpture. Fuller is particularly interested in Ruskin’s attempts to discover a principle of beauty in the natural world-attempts animated at once by devotional awe and scientific curiosity. Amid the graffiti, the piles of refuse and the space-age appliances, Fuller addresses us with his own apocalyptic ...

Interdisciplinarity

Dinah Birch, 27 June 1991

The Desire of My Eyes: A Life of John Ruskin 
by Wolfgang Kemp, translated by Jan Van Huerck.
HarperCollins, 526 pp., £20, March 1991, 0 00 215166 9
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... It has never been easy to place Ruskin. In his own lifetime, his influence was fragmented by the bewildering range of subjects he undertook to write about. The dislocation has continued since his death. As far as the mainstream disciplines in Britain are concerned (his legacy in America is a separate story), he has always seemed tangential ...

Consider the Wombat

Katherine Rundell, 11 October 2018

... in a letter that the wombat had successfully interrupted a seemingly uninterruptable monologue by John Ruskin by burrowing its nose between the critic’s waistcoat and jacket. Rossetti drew the wombats repeatedly; he sketched his mistress – William Morris’s wife, Jane – walking one on a leash. In the image, both Jane and the wombat look ...

Wallpaper and Barricades

Terry Eagleton, 23 February 1995

William Morris: A Life for Our Time 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 780 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 571 14250 8
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... an indigenous British current of it had got under way, passed from Coleridge and Carlyle to John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold. From this radical-Romantic viewpoint, industrial capitalism was to be condemned for stifling a creativity which the arts, above all, most finely exemplified. Art was the enemy of alienation, craftsmanship the antithesis of ...

The People’s Goya

Nicholas Penny: A Fascination with Atrocity, 23 September 2004

Goya 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 429 pp., £25, October 2003, 1 84343 054 1
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... or at least fail to exhibit – a picture of a popular uprising against mounted soldiers. John Ruskin burned an album of Los Caprichos. Hughes observes that, ‘if nothing else could make you sense that Ruskin was cuckoo’, this ‘peculiar deed’ would. But it is easy to understand the horrified response of ...

Façades

Peter Burke, 19 November 1981

The Building of Renaissance Florence: An Economic and Social History 
by Richard Goldthwaite.
Johns Hopkins, 459 pp., £16.50, April 1981, 0 8018 2342 0
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Public Life in Renaissance Florence 
by Richard Trexler.
Academic Press, 591 pp., £29.80, March 1981, 0 12 699550 8
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Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice 
by Edward Muir.
Princeton, 356 pp., £10.80, August 1981, 0 691 05325 1
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Venice: The Greatness and the Fall 
by John Julius Norwich.
Allen Lane, 400 pp., £12, September 1981, 0 7139 1409 2
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Ruskin and Venice 
edited by Jeanne Clegg.
Junction, 233 pp., £10.50, September 1981, 0 86245 019 5
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The Stones of Venice 
by John Ruskin and Jan Morris.
Faber, 239 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 571 11815 1
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... is an elegant and distinguished first book. Like its predecessor The Rise to Empire, John Julius Norwich’s The Greatness and the Fall has the modest aim of providing ‘a straightforward record of the main political events of Venetian history, for the general non-academic reader’. This second volume takes the story from 1405 to 1797, from the ...

The Chase

Inigo Thomas: ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’, 20 October 2016

... seen at first sight’ was another of his aphorisms, one that he borrowed from Gotthold Lessing or John Opie, magpie that he was. ‘Every glance is a glance for study,’ he also said. The scene in Rain, Steam and Speed is of an imminent death, the instant of an action caught by a glance. A train rushes across a bridge and is bearing down on a hare that’s ...

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