What does Ruskin mean in The Stones of Venice when he asserts, “while . . . we [should] desire perfection, and strive for it, we are nevertheless not to set the meaner thing . . . above the nobler thing” (Norton 1327)?

Question description

The Victorian Age (cont.)

Art and Aesthetics: John Ruskin / Dante Gabriel Rossetti / Christina Rossetti / Gerard Manley Hopkins / Algernon Charles Swinburne / Oscar Wilde


Objectives

  • To cultivate an understanding of the development of English literature during this period
  • To understand the texts from both literary and historical standpoints, including:as developing out of a new language and cultureas elaborating on previous texts and ideasas generating new language and ideasas sources for later literature, both as context and allusionthe poetic and thematic structures
  • To be able to define key terms relative to the texts and period
    • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2

Reading

John Ruskin: From

The Stones of Venice

“The Savageness of Gothic Architecture” (pages 1324-1334) Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “The Blessed Damozel” (pages 1443-1447)

Christina Rossetti: “In an Artist’s Studio” (page 1463)

“Winter: My Secret” (pages 1464-1465) Gerard Manley Hopkins: “God’s Grandeur” (page 1516)

“Pied Beauty” (page 1518) Algernon Charles Swinburne: “Hymn to Proserpine” (pages 1496-1498)

Oscar Wilde: “Impression du Matin” (pages 1687-1688)

“Preface to

The Picture of Dorian Gray

” (pages 1697-1698)
__________________________________________________________________________

  • What does Ruskin mean in The Stones of Venice when he asserts, “while . . . we [should] desire perfection, and strive for it, we are nevertheless not to set the meaner thing . . . above the nobler thing” (Norton 1327)?
  • Give TWO examples of Dante Rossetti’s use of religious symbolism in the poem “The Blessed Damozel.”
  • “In an Artist’s Studio” is a description of the subject of several paintings-a beautiful woman. Based on this poem, how does the speaker (possibly the poet) feel about this woman? Refer to the poem specifically.
  • What is the “secret” that the speaker is talking about in “Winter: My Secret”?
  • In what ways does the speaker of “Winter: My Secret” attempt to hide her secret? How might these things be seen as a metaphor?
  • In Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur,” what does the speaker say has happened to the “grandeur of God”? How is this somewhat against the expectations created by the title of the poem?
  • How does “God’s Grandeur” end hopefully and brightly despite people’s misuse of the beauty of the world?
  • How is the poem “Pied Beauty” different from other types of praise poems? (That is, is there anything unusual about the things it praises?)
  • What is the attitude of the speaker in “Impression du Matin”? How does this reflect what many artists felt at the end of the Victorian period? (2 point)
  • In the “Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Wilde asserts that “it is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors” (Norton 1698). What does he mean by this statement? Do you agree or disagree?
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