Books: Stones of Ruskin

JOHN RUSKIN: THE PASSIONATE

MORALIST by Joan Abse

Knopf; 363 pages; $18.50

To a bemused modern reader, John Ruskin is yet another long-gone marvel, a species of featherless biped now extinct. This rare bird, born in 1819, was a gentleman of means and an amateur of genius, whose leisurely travels to Italy and Switzerland resulted in a vast outpouring of noblesse oblige: Sesame and Lilies and Seven Lamps of Architecture and some 30 other volumes instructing his countrymen on how to think about art, man and socialism. His writing now seems overabundant; but in...

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