The Work of John Ruskin
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC
By: Charles Waldstein
Excerpt from book: II RUSKIN AS THE FOUNDER OF PHNOM- ENOLOGY OF NATURE The term romantic is also applied to nature, and here it has fundamentally the same meaning as when applied to history. The romantic attitude of mind with regard to nature is again distinguished by the shunning of the reality that immediately surrounds man : and though in the case of nature it is not possible, as itis in the case of history and of the world of imagination, to modify or distort what bears its testimony in itself and is present to the senses, still this negative tendency of romanticism manifests itself in the sf- Uftion which is made among the scenes of nature. And this romantic scenery is selected because it has something out of the common, something that differs from the actual surroundings of man in his daily life, and in so far leads him away from the reality which he dislikes or fails to appreciate. The gentle rolling pasture, the stretches beyond the trim flower-garden, reverberating with the busy life of the village close at hand, are not romantic, excepting, perhaps, by relative gradation, to the dweller in the metropolis : they are too familiar and actually living. But the distant lonely crag and ravine, with the uncommonness of their jagged outline, set in a scene of desolation, without any suggestion of present human life, are, apart from the quality of sublimity which they may possess, and the undoubted specificcharm of novelty wh ich unfamil- iarity adds to their intrinsic form, morelikely to be considered romantic. This is because of their antithesis to the scenes that are associated with familiar life, and their admixture of unreality, owing to their unfamiliarity, and the absence of associations which tie the imagination of the present-weary romanticist in his flight away from what is before ...