JOHN RUSKIN by Peter Quennell


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One of two Pre-Raphaelite biographies to appear at this time, the Marya Zaturenska Christina Rossetti is reviewed below, seems to pose the question whether there is to be a revival of interest in that somewhat maligned period. The Peter Quennell volume is by far the more skillful piece of writing. In fact Quennell has now acquired such mastery of technique in biographical writing that content and interpretation almost escape under the smoothness and readability of his sentences. Although he calls his work the ""portrait of a prophet"", it is not Ruskin's truly great role as an interpreter of architecture that is stressed. Rather he seems endlessly taken up by the queer aberrations of Ruskin's sex-life; his unconsummated marriage to his first wife and his hopeless love for a child in his middle age- all fair enough material for a popular book. The author weaves skillfully enough into this personal life the strands of work, friendships and influences; but he completely passes up a very real opportunity for appraising Ruskin in the light of present day trends in art and architecture.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1949
Publisher: Viking