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Ruskin and a Generation Worth Remembering

Dickinson, Rachel (2019) Ruskin and a Generation Worth Remembering. Journal of Victorian Culture. ISSN 1355-5502 (In Press)

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Abstract

Inspired by what he saw in artefacts from the past, Victorian cultural critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) believed that there are individuals and generations of particular ‘worth’. Looking to biblical and Venetian models which influenced Ruskin, this paper offers a brief overview of how he conceived both of a ‘generation’ and of particularly inspirational individuals within ideal generations. Consistently in Ruskin, perceptive judging – combined with the ability actively to communicate this through artistic ability, whether in fine art, literature or music – are requisites for the genius which characterises individuals of special ‘worth’. This paper is in three parts. It begins with a definition of Ruskinian ‘generation’, then traces how he read the work of a specific Venetian artist, Carpaccio, as representative of a historical generation of particular note, and concludes by briefly considering Ruskin’s theories of generation and genius in relation to his own specific generation of Victoria’s Victorians, born in 1819.

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