Abstract

We cannot remember without [architecture], declares John Ruskin (1819-1900) in "The Lamp of Memory" of his The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) (Cook and Wedderburn, 1904, vol. 8, p. 224). For Ruskin, the city is a place of collective memory, a space where buildings are analogized as texts—"the criticism of the building is to be conducted precisely on the same principles as that of a book," he contends (Works, 10: 269). In the evangelical tradition of Ruskin's upbringing, this interpretation of architecture is a kind of lectio divina; a great building is a sacred palimpsest for those who read the fabric with patience and insight. Equally, a text such as the three volumes of his Stones of Venice is endowed with a tectonic in counterform to the city it depicts. Thus, the first volume is constructed from quarry to cornice; Ruskin demands his readers to roll up their sleeves, gives them "stones, and bricks, and straw, chisels and trowels, and the ground, and then asks [them] to build" (Works, 9: 73). In exploring these analogous spaces of text and architecture, this research operates within the empirical and documentary arena of Ruskinian interpretation, working with the primary notebooks, worksheets, and diaries from which the Stones of Venice was constructed. It examines the reciprocity between Ruskin's multiple readings of the urban fabric, the erection of the manuscript of Stones, and the playing out of his intimate physical knowledge of the city in themes of metaphor, memory and material.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0682
Print ISSN
0024-2594
Pages
pp. 418-439
Launched on MUSE
2013-02-14
Open Access
No
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