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Sesame and Lilies by John Ruskin

Friday, June 6th, 2008

“…so far as you prefer those rapid and ephemeral writings to slow and enduring writings — books, properly so called. For all books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time. Mark this distinction — it is not one of quality only. It is not merely the bad book that does not last, and the good one that does. It is a distinction of species. There are good books for the hour, and good ones for all time; bad books for the hour, and bad ones for all time. I must define the two kinds before I go farther.”

Sesame and Lilies
by John Ruskin

Sesame and Lilies is a collection of lectures by Ruskin that I’ve just added to my to-buy list. I found a promising edition by Yale University Press (ISBN: 9780300092608) that includes a number of essays commenting on various aspects of the text.

Here’s a good general introduction to John Ruskin and here’s the extensive section on him at the Victorian Web.

If you find yourself in the Lake District, you might want to visit Brantwood, the house where he lived for the last 30 years of his life. (Then again, you might not. It’s entirely up to you. I’ve never been, so I can’t vouch for it.) Also in Coniston in Cumbria, is a Ruskin Museum whose website has some information about a startlingly direct method of contraception for sheep — with photos! These are, of course, the famous Lake District sheep known as Herdwicks.

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