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Stones of Venice

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By Ruskin, an architectural study in three volumes (1851–3).

Volume I sets out first principles for discrimination between good and bad architectural features; there follows, in this and volume II, a criticism of the romantic, Byronic vision of Venice that blinds the traveller to present misery and disorder. From the remnants of the past Ruskin creates a myth of Venice, where power is decommercialized and desecularized, and religion pre‐Catholic. The famous chapter ‘The Nature of Gothic’ contrasts feudal relations between authority and workman with those resulting from the division of labour and mechanical mass production in English manufacturing. Volume III describes phases in Renaissance architectural history as illustrations of the gradual degradation of Europe.

Subjects: Literature

Reference entries

John Ruskin (1819—1900) art critic and social critic