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Paperback Unto This Last and Other Writings Book

ISBN: 0140432116

ISBN13: 9780140432114

Unto This Last and Other Writings

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Book Overview

First and foremost an outcry against injustice and inhumanity, Unto this Last is also a closely argued assault on the science of political economy, which dominated the Victorian period. Ruskin was a profoundly conservative man who looked back to the Middle Ages as a Utopia, yet his ideas had a considerable influence on the British socialist movement. And in making his powerful moral and aesthetic case against the dangers of unhindered industrialization...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Ruskin's economic analyses ARE ecomomic reality.

Ruskin, unlike Marx or Ayn Rand, bases his economic work in the real relations between human beings and the hard facts of work and exchange. There is no one reality in terms of aesthetics, or cultural approaches to the world, but _Unto This Last_ is THE TRUTH about human(and/or "post-human")economic realities. Our business-biased news media in the U.S., and academic Marxism, are ideologies. Ruskin is dealing with "mere" material reality.

Yes. What a book!

A compilation of some of the important works of Ruskin are included here, the most important being (in Ruskin's own words) "Unto This Last", which had a profoundly moving effect on Ghandi (among others) and his approach and philosophy. For Ruskin morality and moral economics, sustaining/healthy economics, comes from basic things like knowing who made your shirts and that this person is getting a fair wage for their efforts -- taking responsibility for the effect one's use of money has on the lives of others. Taking advantage of other's economic misfortune was immoral and likely to result in a future backlash on the greater society as well as well as one's inner well being. An intelligent/knowledgeable person taking advantage of the stupid or ignorant is no different than violence of the strong upon the weak, Ruskin analogized. Ruskin illustrated his ideal of a moral economy by using the Gothic "Christian" style as an example, explained in the "Stones of Venice", its communal/community development, its imperfection yet impressive beauty. Perfection is not beautiful in Ruskin's view of life/art; which echoes something of the Zen view of art. Ruskin also argued that homes, during the Gothic age, were in the Gothic style as well and that modern Churches should mimic something of the style of the typical house being built today, the church should not be seen as a separate entity, a separate style; the Church should be integral to the community's self identity and use a similar architecture. Ruskin also inadvertantly created a style and movement he did not aprove of, by creating such a popular view of the Gothic style, that being the Anglo/Catholic movement whom enjoyed the gothic style church and ceremony. (Just walk around most any town and and look at the dates of when Gothic style churches were built in the USA, probably around 1910 or so). The wealth of the elite and the wealth of the rich should ultimately be judged by the general happiness of the common man on the street. Ruskin also advocated reading and the building of public libraries and wrote a moving essay on why one should read: included here. Ruskin's life took some passionate twists. His mother had him memorize the Bible while his father inculcated a love for Byron in him. He proved a gifted artist and then studied geology at university. Then an attack by critics on a favored artist, Turner, lead him on an eighteen year quest to study art and explain why Turner is a great artist, writing volumes of popular art history and critiques while developing a love for Giotto and Dante on the way and becoming possibly the most widely read art critic the English-speaking world has ever produced. Then the economic debates rageing in his day between advocates of Smith's laissez-fair, Malthus, Ricardo, Mills, and Marx lead Ruskin to attack all of them and to point out why they all miss the point in some way. Ruskin's approach was organic given: time, place, and circumstances, but he does give mo

Whoa..., What a book!!

I must say I never expected this to be such a stunner. I have read it twice but confess that I am sitting down again. This has to be the 'Matrix' of the 1800's as it certainly turns conventional thinking on its head...The introduction by Clive Wilmer is extremely enlightening as it provides a background against which the book can be thoroughly enjoyed. This book cleared a lot of doubts I had for a long time on many things and I must say raised twice as many questions about what I thought right :-)Ruskin has been praised by many people as being the vioce of truth. He starts his main essay from a story in the Bible and then blows the reader away with his acute judgements and impeccable logic. In the end all you can do is but agreee that 'There is no Wealth but Life'Also recommend 'The Kingdom of God is Within You' by Tolstoy.

"There is no wealth but life."

_Unto This Last_ is a series of four essays on political economy, which were originally designed to be published in Cornhill Magazine. The essays caused so much contemporary anger and scorn, however, that their publication was discontinued. Ruskin began as an art critic, who wrote in favor of a naturalism based in the imagination rather than the eye. His works discussed the moral and political dimensions of art and architecture, and it was probably natural that this would lead him into his interest in socialism and the powerful writing found in _Unto This Last_. He was passionately arguing against the Utilitarianism of writers such as John Stuart Mill and others who saw immutable laws of economy which were rooted in anything except justice. His assertion was that the accumulation of money was in fact an accumulation of power rather than wealth, and necessarily resulted in an imbalance which adversely affected society. For instance, he said that a successful factory which polluted the environment could not be termed profitable because of the resulting damage to society itself.This collection of Ruskin's works (edited and with commentary by Clive Wilmer) contains the whole of _Unto This Last_ and enough of a selection of his other works to give a sense of the chronological position of the essays in Ruskin's career. The book features an early fairy tale by Ruskin which was written for his wife, an excerpt from _The Stones of Venice_ which discusses the nature of Gothic architecture, excerpts from _the Two Paths_ and _Modern Painters_, two lectures which were published as parts of _The Crown of Wild Olive_ and _Sesame and Lilies_, and finally ends with letters 7 and 10 from _Fors Clavigera_.Ghandi credited _Unto This Last_ with providing part of the impetus behind his transformation. And it would not be ridiculous for me to say that the book forced a radical reexamination of many of my own assumptions and ideas. It's also a pleasure to read, with beautiful as well as thought-provoking prose. Worthwhile reading for more than students of Victoriana.
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