How John Ruskin shapes our world
Who was John Ruskin? What did he achieve – and how? Where is he today? One possible answer: almost everywhere. Ruskin was the Victorian age’s best-known and most controversial intellectual and polymath – an artist, scientist, critic, polemicist, social crusader, philanthropist and early environmentalist. Two hundred years since his birth in 1819, his ideas have a fierce modern relevance. In Ruskinland, Andrew Hill, the award-winning Financial Times columnist, builds on Ruskin’s pin-sharp appreciation of art and architecture, his extraordinary draughtsmanship, and his insistence that to see and draw the world is the best way to understand it better. The book lays out how Ruskin envisaged radical solutions to social inequality, excessive executive pay, flawed economic orthodoxy, advancing automation, environmental disaster and meaningless work. It explains the importance of his prescient view of our fragile, interconnected world, and shows how Ruskin’s radical ideas can still help us run our governments, our museums, our galleries, our companies, and our lives. Part travelogue, part quest, part unconventional biography, Ruskinland retraces Ruskin’s steps, telling his exceptional and tragic life story, unearthing his influence, talking to people and visiting places – from Venice to Florida’s Gulf coast – where Ruskin’s foresighted ideas are, sometimes unexpectedly, alive today.
Pallas Athene; None edition (February 18, 2019)