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The Two Paths

by John Ruskin

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Book Description
Lectures on art and its application to the decoration and manufacture delivered in 1858-9

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In The Two Paths, Ruskin connects his theories of art with economic and practical life. The central theme of Ruskin's theories of art was that contented individuals-working within a just society and striving to capture the essence of nature-produce fine and noble art, while corrupt and despondent individuals-working within an unjust society and relying on the tools of the machine age-produce inferior art. Ruskin's essays anticipate and complement theoretical approaches by critics such as Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Max Horkheimer. Offering a reconsideration of the rhetorical tradition from a visual perspective, this Prospects in Visual Rhetoric Critical Edition is the only edition of The Two Paths currently in print. The introductions and annotations were designed to facilitate critical discussions of Ruskin's theories of art, his role as a social reformer, his visual rhetoric, and the historical/political contexts of his work. The editor's notes define names and cultural allusions in the text, which also includes all appendices and Ruskin's own introduction and illustrations.

From the Publisher
Series Description
Prospects in Visual Rhetoric
Series Editor, Marguerite Helmers

The Series is intended to be a series of historical statements on visual culture, art, architecture, costume, and design, republished for the benefit of the modern reader with commentary by contemporary scholars. Prospects in Visual Rhetoric emerges in the scholarly publishing world to offer an opportunity for a new tradition to be forged, not so much to build a canon, but to rewrite rhetorical tradition from a visual perspective. It is our hope that looking backwards at significant writers and noteworthy essays will allow scholars in the emerging field of visual rhetoric to trace their history to the visual theories, critical commentaries, and scholarly studies of the past. Rhetoricians interested in the visual turn of present-day scholarship will be able to extend their inquiry into the styles, genres, and forms of aesthetic discourse of previous decades and centuries. We hope that art historians, designers, and critics of the visual will also benefit from reconceptualizing these key statements.

About the Author
About the Author John Ruskin (1819-1900), best known for his studies of design and its social and historical implications, is perhaps the greatest critic of culture and art in English history. Between March 1857 and March 1860, Ruskin delivered seventeen addresses that connect his theories of art with economic and practical life. These addresses fall into two classes: lectures called "The Political Economy of Art" (afterwards published as A Joy for Ever), which really began his writing on social and political economy; and miscellaneous lectures afterwards published in The Two Paths, which summarize, and in some points develop, the art theory contained in the five volumes of Modern Painters and the architectural books like The Stones of Venice. In The Two Paths, Ruskin connects his theories of art with economic and practical life. The central theme of Ruskin’s theories of art was that contented individuals, working within a just society and striving to capture the essence of nature, produce fine and noble art, while corrupt and despondent individuals working within an unjust society, and relying on the tools of the machine age, produce inferior art.

About the Editor
Christine Roth is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where she teaches and writes about nineteenth-century British literature and the Pre-Raphaelite movement.



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