Dearest Papa

Richard Altick

  • The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin edited by George Allan Cate
    Stanford, 251 pp, $28.50, August 1982, ISBN 0 8047 1114 3
  • Ruskin Today by Kenneth Clark
    Penguin, 363 pp, £2.95, October 1982, ISBN 0 14 006326 9
  • John Ruskin: Letters from the Continent 1858 edited by John Hayman
    Toronto, 207 pp, £19.50, December 1982, ISBN 0 8020 5583 4

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. In 1866, indeed, as if he were not busy enough, he had offered to become Carlyle’s amanuensis. ‘I have a notion it would be very wholesome work for me, & it would be very proud & dear for me.’

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