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Sesame and Lilies by John Ruskin
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Sesame and Lilies (1865)

by John Ruskin

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I couldn't decipher who wrote the short commentary in the back of the book entitled "The Personality of Ruskin", Arthur Quiller-Couch or Sybil Wragge probably, but they were right I think. Ruskin came across to me as an opinionated bigot who was very pleased with himself and whom I would not have liked at all. Yes, he wrote and lectured some 150 years ago and our social mores have changed considerably, but he made me uncomfortable. I like the physical book though. The Kings Treasuries of Literature series is delightfully designed and produced. ( )
  gmillar | Feb 7, 2014 |
For years I assumed this book, a gift from my Great-Aunt to my beloved Aunt, was just one of those books of beautiful thoughts. On closer inspection it is two lectures delivered by John Ruskin on the education of boys and girls respectively. It's easy to criticise from our 21st century perspective of course, but in his irritatingly didactic and patronising way ("her intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement and decision") he was advanced for his time "You bring up your girls as if they were meant for sideboard ornaments, and then complain of their frivolity. Give them the same advantages that you give their brothers". Still, some of his thoughts seem both horrifying and amusing now "You may chisel a boy into shape, as you would a rock, or hammer him into it... but you cannot hammer a girl into anything. She grows as a flower does". My favourite is his suggestion to "Let her loose in the library, I say, as you do a fawn in the field. It knows the bad weeds...". This didn't quite work in my own case, though a lot of my childhood was spent in libraries. I remember puzzling over various pornographic works among others. I guess my "steps of virgin liberty" were astray. So were those of Ruskin's wife who left him for another man. I guess she felt misunderstood.
Anyway, whatever the intended message for my Aunt in the gift of this pretty little book, I don't think she received it. The pages appear not to have been opened flat enough for reading until now.
  Eurydice2 | Sep 3, 2010 |
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....I want to speak to you about books;and about the way we read them, and could, or should read them.
I have been trying, thus far, to show you what should be the place and what the power of woman.
I know I am right in this.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300092601, Paperback)

John Ruskin's "Sesame and Lilies", first published in 1865, stands as a classic 19th-century statement on the natures and duties of men and women. Although widely popular in its time, the work in its entirety has been out of print since the early 20th century. This volume reunites the two halves of the work: "Of Kings' Treasuries", in which Ruskin critiques Victorian manhood, and "Of Queens' Gardens", in which he counsels women to take their places as the moral guides of men and urges the parents of girls to educate them to this end. Feminist critics of the 1960s and 1970s regarded "Of Queens' Gardens" as an exemplary expression of repressive Victorian ideas about femininity, and they paired it with John Stuart Mill's more progressive "Subjection of Women". This volume, by including the often ignored "Of Kings' Treasuries", offers readers full access to Ruskin's complex and sometimes contradictory views on men and women. The accompanying essays place "Sesame and Lilies" within historical debates on men, women, culture and the family. Elizabeth Helsinger examines the text as a meditation on the pleasures of reading; Seth Koven gives a wide-ranging account of how Victorians read "Sesame and Lilies"; and Jan Marsh situates the work within controversies over educational reform.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:05 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

First published in 1865, Ruskin's two lectures on educational reform codify Victorian ideals of men and women. In Of Kings' Treasuries," Ruskin critiques contemporary manhood, while in Of Queens' Gardens," he urges women to be educated to serve as the moral guides of men. An intriguing look into the roles of men, women, and the family in the nineteenth century.… (more)

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Yale University Press

Two editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300092601, 0300092598

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