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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable synthesis gloriously illustrated, 13 Jun 2010
This review is from: Worlds of John Ruskin (Paperback)
Anthony Blunt told André Chastel once that from the start of his interest in art he had a horror of Ruskin. This slender book on Ruskin should prove a revelation to anybody who, like Blunt, but maybe for different reasons, has endeavoured to read just a little of the millions of words that Ruskin wrote and found them indigestible, his prejudices annoying, his ideals unreasonable, and his life only marginally fascinating. This book is a remarkable introductory synthesis of much that Ruskin thought and wrote, and is a distillation of a lot of ideas as a social reformer, climate warner, architectural visionary and critic, and makes Ruskin seem much more readable and approachable than ever before. The fact that it is illustrated with some of Ruskin's most beautiful watercolours, many unpublished, makes turning every page a pleasure.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review, 23 April 2012
This review is from: Worlds of John Ruskin (Paperback)
I purchased this book at an exhibition of Ruskins drawings. I knew his name but not his work. Ruskin was a deep thinker, and fortunate to have been born into a wealthy family which enabled him to dedicate his life to his interests. He surrounded himself with other artists and he was a firm believer in skill and technical ability which I admire and think has been lost. The art World is a poorer place because of this. There is no doubt that Ruskin was a seriously talented draughtsman and he encouraged others who followed a similar path. Ruskins personal life was a bit more complicated, and he often appears to be a loner, but this book approaches both his artistic pursuits and his personal life in equal measure.

I enjoyed this book so much I planned a visit to Brantwood, his home in the Lake District. The information in the book enabled a visit that felt as if Ruskin had just popped out for a walk, as I really felt I understood something of him as a person, artist and academic. Not many books can do this, so well worth the money.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic brief guide to a neglected genius, 24 April 2010
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Ms. Emily J. Godowski (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Worlds of John Ruskin (Paperback)
This is excellent on a number of levels: as an introduction to a fascinatingly complex man, as a travel book, as a beautiful set of pictures, as a challenge to look again at Ruskin and other Victorians. Anyone who has enjoyed browsing through that old series, the World of, say Dickens, Joyce, the Brontes - illustrated guides written by fans, and full of info - will be pleased to find that Kevin Jackson has revived the brand and outdone it, but with first-rate colour visuals. He presents a balanced but personally committed account of Ruskin - he is a charming propagandist. But for anyone whose knowledge of Ruskin, like mine, went little further than the puzzling fact that he could admire both Turner and the Pre-Raphs, and then that thing about pubic hair (a libel, it seems from the evidence) Jackson offers a complex, troubled picture that is both more interesting and more disturbing, and that really does allow us to look back into worlds that are now alien to us. Jackson makes claims for Ruskin's contemporary influence that are convincing, but what makes this book particularly powerful is that you feel as you read further into it that you are in the presence of a rare, strange creature from a time so different from our own; in that way it really is a bit of a gothic mystery. Having said that, it's a perfect present for a nice bookish uncle, artistic godchild or anyone who is heading to the Lakes, Venice and Northern Italy, the Alps, Oxford, Normandy - or South London; or for anyone who is interested in Gandhi, Proust (there's a great supporting cast of characters influenced by Ruskin) or just about any aspect of art and architecture. More and more Ruskin is in print, but, judging from the complex history of Ruskin's attitudes that Jackson outlines, you would do well to take in this broad view first, before he come back into fashion.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elucidating Ruskin, 12 May 2010
By 
E. M. Haines Wood (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Worlds of John Ruskin (Paperback)
I have always been aware, interested and intimidated by Ruskin: interested by the overlaps with my interests in Venice, in socialism,in architecture and in the Lake District, connected by my husband's sojourn at Ruskin College, puzzled by the wideness and (seeming) disparities of his interests, and intimidated by the length and (seeming) dustiness of his writing.

This book pulled all these conflicting responses together, explained much (including poor Effie),and finally made me turn to the man's own writing. As a less read Victorian he provides an unfamiliar study of much that is best about that breed:learning, astounding confidence, stiffness and complexity, energy. Perhaps the greatest surprise for me was his stunningly accomplished drawing and painting (beautifully reproduced here)which made me want to own his work.

It is a great, persuasive and knowledgeable introduction, and an enjoyable read, bound to convert those like me to full Ruskinite enthusiasm. I'll be taking his detailed and perceptive eye with me to Venice and visiting his Lake District house when next I can.
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Worlds of John Ruskin
Worlds of John Ruskin by Kevin Jackson (Paperback - 1 Sep 2009)
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