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The Ethics of the Dust

John Ruskin

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .And I saw suddenly, drawn on the sand, the outlines of great cities, and of vaults, and domes, and aqueducts, and bastions, and towers, greater than obelisks, covered with black clouds. And the wind blew ripples of sand amidst the lines that Pthah drew, and the moving sand was like the marching of men. But I saw that wherever Neith looked at the lines, they faded, and were effaced.

"Oh, Brother!" she said at last, "what is this vanity? If I, who am Lady of wisdom, do not mock the children of men, why shouldst thou mock them, who art Lord of truth?" But Pthah answered, "They thought to bind me; and they shall be bound. They shall labor in the fire for vanity."

And Neith said, looking at the sand, "Brother, there is no true labor here—there is only weary life and wasteful death."

And Pthah answered, "Is it not truer labor, sister, than thy sculpture of dreams?" Then Neith smiled; and stopped suddenly.

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Community Reviews

Even though it is apparent that Ruskin wrote this book under the belief that girls could handle the study of geology, his whole attitude towards all of the girls in his class was very degrading. They had questions, and he merely teased answers or complained that he was too cross today to answer any

"The great difficulty is always to open people’s eyes : to touch their feelings and break their hearts, is easy, the difficult thing is to break their heads. What does it matter as long as they remain stupid, whether you change their feelings or not? You cannot always be at their elbow to tell them