Overview

 

As a memoir elevated to the level of fine art, John Ruskin’s Praeterita stands alongside The Education of Henry Adams and the confessions of Augustine, Rousseau, and Tolstoy. A luminous account of his childhood and youth, Praeterita is the last major work of the revolutionary nineteenth-century critic.

 

Written in the lucid intervals between the bouts of dementia that haunted his final years, Praeterita tells the story of Ruskin’s early life—the formation of his ...

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Praeterita

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Overview

 

As a memoir elevated to the level of fine art, John Ruskin’s Praeterita stands alongside The Education of Henry Adams and the confessions of Augustine, Rousseau, and Tolstoy. A luminous account of his childhood and youth, Praeterita is the last major work of the revolutionary nineteenth-century critic.

 

Written in the lucid intervals between the bouts of dementia that haunted his final years, Praeterita tells the story of Ruskin’s early life—the formation of his taste and intellect through education, travels in Europe, and encounters with great works of art and artists. In abandoning the traditional linear mode of autobiography, Ruskin opened up the form and was an important influence on Proust. He also provided a vivid, detailed portrait of pre-Victorian and Victorian England that is as indispensable an account of its era as Samuel Pepys’s diary is of England in the seventeenth century.

 

This edition of Praeterita is accompanied by Dilecta, Ruskin’s own selection from his letters, diaries, and other writings. In these more private writings we get a fascinating glimpse of genius as it flickers in and out of madness. Together these two works illuminate the life and mind of a towering intellect who left an extraordinary mark on the history of aesthetics and culture, and on the very course of autobiography. With a new Introduction by Tim Hilton


(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375712647
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/16/2014
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 632
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Francis O'Gormon is Professor of Victorian Literature at the University of Leeds.

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Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER VII. PAPA AND MAMMA. THE work to which, as partly above described, I set myself during the year 1834 under the excitement remaining from my foreign travels, was in four distinct directions, in any one of which my strength might at that time have been fixed by definite encouragement. There was first the effort to express sentiment in rhyme ; the sentiment being really genuine, under all the superficial vanities of its display; and the rhymes rhythmic, only without any ideas in them. It was impossible to explain, either to myself or other people, why I liked staring at the sea, or scampering on a moor; but, one had pleasure in making some sort of melodious noise about it, like the wavesthemselves, or the peewits. Then, secondly, there was the real loveof engraving, and of such characters of surface and shade as it could give. I have never seen drawing, by a youth, so entirely industrious in delicate line; and there was really the making of a fine landscape, or figure outline, engraver in me. But fate having ordered otherwise, I mourn the loss to engraving less than that before calculated, or rather incalculable, one, to geology! Then there was, thirdly, the violent instinct for architecture; but I never could have built or carved anything, because I was without power of design; and have perhaps done as much in that direction as it was worth doing with so limited faculty. And then, fourthly, there was the unabated, never to be abated, geological instinct, now fastened on the Alps. My fifteenth birthday gift being left to my choice, I asked for Saussure's 'Voyages dans les Alpes,' and thenceforward began progressive work, carryingon my mineralogical dictionary by the help ofJameson's three-volume Mineralogy, (an entirely clear and serviceable book;) comparing his descri...
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