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The Two Paths

John Ruskin

Book Overview: 

"The Two Paths" is a collection of five lectures delivered by John Ruskin on art and architecture. This is how the author himself presents the book: "The following addresses, though spoken at different times, are intentionally connected in subject; their aim being to set one or two main principles of art in simple light before the general student, and to indicate their practical bearing on modern design. The law which it has been my effort chiefly to illustrate is the dependence of all noble design, in any kind, on the sculpture or painting of Organic Form." The most famous of these, the fifth lecture, is commonly known simply as "The Work of Iron"

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .appointed you to wear away your life in walled chambers, or dig your life out of dusty furrows; but, when your whole profession, your whole occupation— all the necessities and chances of your existence, led you straight to the feet of the great Teacher, and thrust you into the treasury of His works; where you have nothing to do but to live by gazing, and to grow by wondering;—wilfully you bind up your eyes from the splendour— wilfully bind up your life-blood from its beating—wilfully turn your backs upon all the majesties of Omnipotence—wilfully snatch your hands from all the aids of love, and what can remain for you, but helplessness and blindness,—except the worse fate than the being blind yourselves—that of becoming Leaders of the blind?

Do not think that I am speaking under excited feeling, or in any exaggerated terms. I have written the words I use, that I may know what I say, and that you, if you choose, may see what I have said. . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Some good essays on the wider social impact of art and design. Also some interesting thoughts around what constitutes design as an art.

There is a lot for us here: the need for beauty in ordinary life; nature as the model for our imagination; the depiction of nature vs abstraction in architecture etc. .

Beautifully written, in "full Victorian mode"and packed with insights and many loose ends to follow up.

Note: the economic situatio