Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Sesame and Lilies

Sesame and Lilies

Edited and with an Introduction by Deborah Epstein Nord
Elizabeth Helsinger
Seth Koven
Jan Marsh
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 240
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Sesame and Lilies
    Book Description:

    John Ruskin'sSesame and Lilies,first published in 1865, stands as a classic nineteenth-century statement on the natures and duties of men and women. Although widely popular in its time, the work in its entirety has been out of print since the early twentieth century. This volume returnsSesame and Liliesto easy availability and reunites the two halves of the work:Of Kings' Treasuries,in which Ruskin critiques Victorian manhood, andOf Queens' Gardens,in which he counsels women to take their places as the moral guides of men and urges the parents of girls to educate them to this end.Feminist critics of the 1960s and 1970s regardedOf Queens' Gardensas an exemplary expression of repressive Victorian ideas about femininity, and they paired it with John Stuart Mill's more progressiveSubjection of Women. This volume, by including the often ignoredOf Kings' Treasuries,offers readers full access to Ruskin's complex and sometimes contradictory views on men and women. The accompanying essays placeSesame and Lilieswithin historical debates on men, women, culture, and the family. Elizabeth Helsinger examines the text as a meditation on the pleasures of reading, Seth Koven gives a wide-ranging account of how Victorians readSesame and Lilies,and Jan Marsh situates the work within controversies over educational reform.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12930-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Chronology of Ruskin’s Life and Works
    (pp. x-xii)
  5. Editor’s Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    The series in which this edition of John Ruskin’sSesame and Liliesappears is predicated on the notion that certain texts persist and yet change over time and so merit revisiting from the perspective of a particular historical moment. I want to comment here on why Ruskin’s 1865 volume qualifies as one such text and to suggest how the significance of this work has changed even in the course of the past fifty years. I also want to introduce this volume ofSesame and Liliesas a gesture of reunion and reclamation, bringing together in one modern edition the two...

  6. Note on the Text
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  7. Sesame and Lilies
    (pp. 1-94)

    1. A passage in the eighty-fifth page of this book,¹ referring to Alpine travellers, will fall harshly on the reader’s ear, since it has been sorrowfully enforced by the deaths on Mont Cervin. I leave it, nevertheless, as it stood, for I do not now write unadvisedly, and think it wrong to cancel what has once been thoughtfully said; but it must not so remain without a few added words.

    No blame ought to attach to the Alpine tourist for incurring danger. There is usually sufficient cause, and real reward, for all difficult work; and even were it otherwise, some...

  8. Glossary
    (pp. 95-110)
  9. Rethinking Sesame and Lilies

    • Authority, Desire, and the Pleasures of Reading
      (pp. 113-141)

      Reading is a central concern of Ruskin’s 1864 Manchester lectures. Their titles—“Of Kings’ Treasuries,” “Of Queens’ Gardens”—point to differences in the roles Ruskin believed reading should play in the educations not only of men and women but also of the ruling and the working classes. For us, as for many educated Englishwomen and men in the 1860s, these lectures may offend by entwining reading with highly conservative views of social relations in pronouncements that themselves can sound irritatingly authoritative.¹ Yet Ruskin’s lectures are more interesting than such an account might suggest. His figurative language and emotional rhetoric, strange...

    • Of Sesame and Lilies: EDUCATION IN A HUMANE SOCIETY
      (pp. 142-164)

      When Ruskin delivered the original lectures that make upSesame and Lilies, he entered into a current and spirited discussion about appropriate educational aims and practices for children of both sexes, a debate in which other Victorian writers and social critics, such as Harriet Martineau and Matthew Arnold, were also involved. Considering “Of Kings’ Treasuries” and “Of Queens’ Gardens” together makes Ruskin’s contribution to these issues more clearly apparent, as it also enables us to see the unexpected lines of argument opened up by his discursive—and in some sense—deceptive prose. InSesame and Lilies, his attack in “Of...

    • How the Victorians Read Sesame and Lilies
      (pp. 165-204)

      John Ruskin’s lectures on reading and women’s roles in society, published under the titleSesame and Liliesin 1865, appeared in dozens of editions in many forms and sold several hundred thousand copies by the turn of the century.¹ As an 1895 reviewer of a handsome “umber colored ooze calf” edition aptly noted,Sesame and Lilieswas a “protean” book, constantly changing its physical form and content.² I would add thatSesame and Lilieshas disclosed new and different meanings to the men and women, adults and children who continue to read it.

      At first glance, the enduring importance of...

  10. Suggestions for Further Reading
    (pp. 205-208)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 209-210)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)