Thursday 7 March 2024

'mind you don't all go mad'


wrote Ruskin to Morris after thanking him for The Defence of Guenevere

"  You must be wondering much I have not written of your book before now, except in those cold words.  Bu I did not know what to make of it.  Good it is, in many ways wrong also in many ways but whether the wrong of it ought to be, or can be mended I cannot tell.  it is very gorgeous and very intense - but too much of mere sensation in it - there is nothing of human nature but the heart and eyes - your people all live on love, and crimson and gold.   Do you suppose that in the middle ages there were no heads fit for using as well as hearts or that people couldn't think inside of helmets?  The only thing that I can make out you consider a head good for is to have hair on it - what a blessed book it is for hair-deifiers!

It is also more obscure even than Browning.  I am quite certain that the blue closet is beyond all interpretation by any living being.  I speak more vexedly about the things than I should otherwise, and can't enjoy them as much as I should because I think you are doing Rossetti mischief with all these crotchets & quaintnesses and that you all live in a state of perpetual excitement about blood and murder and bones and pokes with lances which is inconsistent with good painter's work & proper business generally.  Still the book's a fine book as an exponent of what one may call Sacred Animalism - showing the nature of the Man-Animal in an elevated & fine state: and the passionate bits couldn't well be better.

The two bits I like best are the prayer of Rapunzel & Alice at page 106.   I haven't read Guenevere yet - but it looks good.  I don't say I'm right - mind - in all this - but mind you don't all go mad".

Ruskin to Morris  n.d  [MSS RP 2917]  in fine literary critical form

No comments:

Post a Comment