Welcome to “Why Ruskin”

The goal of this website is to introduce readers to the remarkable thought of the great 19th Century British Art and Social Critic, John Ruskin. Even though his is hardly a household name these days, it is my deep belief that Ruskin’s brilliant thought and carefully worked out ideas (always encased in glorious prose) still retain great relevancy for our modern days, offering “new” ways of thinking about and, quite possibly, alleviating or lessening many of the troubles which continue to beset us. But there is another level to Ruskin’s genius, his unparalleled ability to make the beauty of this world and life come alive in his paragraphs. I am hopeful that, after reading some of the posts here, you might come to agree with both assessments.

If you are a First Time Visitor, I recommend that you start by reading the First Post: “An Introduction to this Site” (to do so, click on the underlined passage). Using a number of Ruskin’s best quotes, this offering explains the site’s history and goals. Then, if you’d like to read other Posts, slide your cursor to the right hand side of this page and click on the Drop Down for “Previous Posts by Topic,” select a “Category,” click on it, following which which all Posts relevant to that topic–“Nature” or “Society,” say–will appear on the screen in the sequence of their posting. More information about Ruskin and myself can be found in the Pages listed in the navigation bar under the banner photographs above. If you’d like to be notified of  subsequent Posts as they publish, click on the “FOLLOW” button at the top of the right hand column. The most recent Post on the site can always be read below this “Welcome” note (just scroll down). Questions, suggestions, or comments are always welcome.  The lovely drawing–there are many more–of a peacock and a falcon feather is Ruskin’s.


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72: And Another…

While I was setting aside my folder of not-yet-shared Ruskin quotes the other day as I cobbled together our last post (#71), another piece of paper slipped out. The words on it didn’t exactly fit with those I was on the verge of sharing but they were so beautiful and apt, I determined that they should find their way to our small portion of cyberspace soon.

That’s the thing about reading Ruskin. In any kind of weather–in a bad political season (!), in the midst of deep grief or worry or frustration, wherever we are in our day or week or year–suddenly his words and sentences lift up, soften, salve, or center. It is in this inexhaustible richness that his genius resides, his matchless humanity, his singular–I can think of no other right word–goodness.

And so, in the second volume of The Stones of Venice (1853), while I was reading on 22 February 2012 (I’m not sure why I date these recordings, but I do!), I came across the following sentence and wrote it down:

    And therefore, while in all things we see or do we are to desire perfection and strive for it, we are nevertheless not to set the meaner thing in its narrow accomplishment over the nobler thing in its mighty progress, nor to esteem smooth minuteness above shattered majesty, nor to prefer mean victory to honorable defeat, nor to lower the level of our aim that we may surely enjoy the complacency of our success.

Right then, I thought. Right still.


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