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John Ruskin

Sharon Aronofsky Weltman

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199799558-0060
John Ruskin

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Best known as a theorist, critic, and historian of visual culture, John Ruskin (1819–1900) wrote prolifically and influentially about a wide array of other topics. He championed the eminent English landscape painter J. M. W. Turner, inspired and provided the theoretical basis for both the Pre-Raphaelite and the Arts and Crafts movements, helped to promote the Gothic revival in building, and infamously reviewed James Whistler so insultingly that he provoked a lawsuit. An excellent artist in his own right, in recent years his vivid watercolors and finely executed drawings have been shown in numerous exhibitions. He is equally recognized as a social critic for his efforts to benefit the working class and to rethink the structure of society on more just principles. He is often quoted as both a conservative and a progressive voice in the “Woman Question” debate, defending separate spheres while promoting women’s education. Having coined the term “pathetic fallacy,” Ruskin is of course also significant to the history of literary criticism and theory. Just as acute an observer of the natural world as of the aesthetic, Ruskin was an active member of the Geological Society. He wrote such impassioned eco-criticism that he is thirtieth of the top one hundred “green campaigners of all time” (The Guardian, 28 November 2006). He is widely regarded as one of the greatest prose stylists in the 19th century; in particular, his autobiography Praeterita (1885–1889) is held to be among the most beautiful examples of Victorian life-writing. His other major works include Modern Painters (1843–1860), The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849), The King of the Golden River (1851), The Stones of Venice (1851–1853), Unto this Last (1860), Sesame and Lilies (1865), The Queen of the Air (1869), Fors Clavigera (1871–1878;1880–1884), Fiction Fair and Foul (1880–1881), and The Bible of Amiens (1884).

Article.  10419 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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