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Aesthetic and Critical Theory of John Ruskin

Aesthetic and Critical Theory of John Ruskin

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    Aesthetic and Critical Theory of John Ruskin
    Book Description:

    This book traces the sources and development of Ruskin's aesthetic and critical theories. In his attempt to skirt the danger of excessive emotion and association in art, Ruskin's struggle with the sublime but not the picturesque, is, along with the pathetic fallacy, examined. These concepts, too, are considered in light of Ruskin's continuing religious and intellectual development. Finally, Ruskin's loss of faith is analyzed in relation to the problem of allegory in art. Ruskin argued for an unchanging standard of beauty, though the psychological nature of the artist is related to his art medium.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7202-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 3-40)

    InThe Life of John Ruskin, E. T. Cook praised the theories o£ beauty which Ruskin presented in the second volume ofModern Painterswith an enthusiasm that these theories are unlikely to evoke in a reader today: “Ruskin’s theory has been, and will be, assailed; but it is consistent with itself, it explains many of the phenomena, and it harmonises, better than any other philosophy of the beautiful, with a system of natural religion…. The volume has, moreover, a permanent value, independent of the theory which it expounds. No one, I think, can read the chapters on Infinity, Unity,...

  2. CHAPTER ONE Ruskin’s Theory of the Sister Arts
    (pp. 41-86)

    The weary tradition ofut pictura poesis, so popular throughout the eighteenth century, had all but died by 1856 when John Ruskin published the third volume ofModern Painters, and it is thus striking to encounter a statement that ‬“Painting is properly to be opposed tospeakingorwriting, but not topoetry. Both painting and speaking are methods of expression. Poetry is the employment of either for the noblest purposes”(5.31). In this same volume Ruskin again describes art as expression: “Great art is produced by men who feel acutely and nobly; and it is in some sort an expression...

  3. CHAPTER TWO Ruskin’s Theories of Beauty
    (pp. 87-180)

    John Ruskin’s aesthetic theories are a type of his entire thought and writings, and they deserve careful attention not only because they play an essential role inModern Painters, but also because their relation to sources, their formulation, and their evolution are characteristic of much that is important in his works. The same concerns, attitudes, and procedures which mark his aesthetics also characterize aspects of his work as different as his pronouncements on poetry and politics. The presentation of these theories of beauty is, for example, characteristically polemical. In aesthetics, as in politics, Ruskin rarely advances a point without casting...

  4. CHAPTER THREE Ruskin’s Theories of the Sublime and Picturesque
    (pp. 181-240)

    Ruskin used his theory of the sublime, like the theory of beauty which it complements, to solve the problem of the role of emotion in beauty and art. Ruskin’s theoretical formulations of the sublime changed during the writing ofModern Painters, and the course of this change is an index of his attempts to find place for the disordering, subjective elements of emotion in his aesthetic system. Since he at first believed that his notion of beauty could embrace what earlier authors had relegated to the sublime, he thought his aesthetic would not require a theory of sublimity. In the...

  5. CHAPTER FOUR Ruskin’s Religious Belief
    (pp. 241-318)

    We have seen that because Ruskin increasingly felt a need to emphasize the role of human, as opposed to divine, elements in his theocentric system of aesthetics, he was unable to maintain his beauty of order. Although he never formulated a second complete theory of beauty, the statements which Ruskin made about the sublime, the picturesque, and the beauty of association inThe Seven Lamps of Architectureand the last four volumes ofModern Paintersshow that, even as he proposed his theory of beauty, he began to allow room in his aesthetic system for the role of subjective reactions....

  6. CHAPTER FIVE Ruskin and Allegory
    (pp. 319-458)

    The allegorical tradition in painting, poetry, and critical theory, so vital in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, had all but died by 1856 when Ruskin published the third volume ofModern Painters, and it is thus striking to encounter his statement that “allegorical painting has been the delight of the greatest men and of the wisest multitudes, from the beginning of art, and will be till art expires”(5.134). Arguing against those who assert that “symbolism or personification should not be introduced in painting at all,” Ruskin expresses the wish “that every great allegory which the poets ever invented were powerfully...