The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius

The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius

The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius

The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius

Excerpt

This book is about Ruskin's mind, its wayward genius, its sickness, its essential sanity. Because Ruskin was the most personal of writers, the book is also about his life, but only in so far as it shaped--or warped--what he wrote. Like his life, his works are a compound of chaos and order, blindness and perception; the contours of his thought were at all points contiguous with the perplexities and epiphanies of his daily experience.

Ruskin began writing in earnest at the age of seven. He ceased sixty years later, after a final attack of madness forced him to lay down his pen. In the interim he published more than forty books, several hundred lectures and articles, and with the accuracy of a solitary fanatic recorded in his diaries every thought, image, and emotion which crossed his consciousness. Many of his works are ill- organized and incomplete, fragments of a larger, never-realized design which constantly shifted with the growth of his thought. Some are trivial; yet none is lifeless, for he brought to his most trifling digression the energy and undisciplined abundance of his genius. The variety of subjects he wrote about is astonishing, but no less so than the individuality of his point of view. To isolate that point of view without crushing its vitality or denying its contradictions, to trace its development through his criticism of art and of society, to perceive it in his analysis of the forms of clouds, the composition of a painting, or the structure of an ideal commonwealth is the aim of this book. For the wonder of Ruskin is both his disorder and oneness--the triumph of a unified vision over an often divided and ravaged mind.

The division of Ruskin's thought into chapters and books has . . .

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