BLTC Press Titles

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The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

The Characters of Theophrastus


Art and life

by John Ruskin


All great art is delicate.—Elements of Drawing, p. 8.

The art, or general productive and formative energy, of any country, is an exact exponent of its ethical life. You can have noble art only from noble persons.—Lectures on Art, p. 22.

I have had but one steady aim in all that I have ever tried to teach, namely—to declare that whatever was great in human art was the expression of man's delight in God's work.— The l\eo Paths, p. 34.

Thoroughly perfect art is that which proceeds from the heart, which involves all the noble emotions;—associates with these the head, yet as inferior to the heart; and the hand, yet as inferior to the heart and head; and thus brings out the whole man.—Hie Two Paths, p. 38.

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts—the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last. The acts of a nation may be triumphant by its good fortune; and its words mighty by the genius of a few of its children: but its art, only by the general gifts and common sympathies of the race.— St. Mark's Rest, p. 3.

An artist is a person who has submitted to a law which it was painful to obey, that he may bestow a delight which it is gracious to bestow.—Fors, III., p. 58.

Art And Mechanism.—Almost the whole system and hope of modern life are founded on the notion that you may substitute mechanism for skill, photograph for picture, cast-iron for sculpture. That is your main nineteenth century faith, or infidelity. You think you can get everything by grinding—music, literature, and painting. You will find it grievously not so ; you can1 get nothing but dust by mere grinding.—Lectures on Art, p. 66.

The Material Conditions Of Art.—All art which is worth its room in this world, all art which is not a piece of blundering refuse, occupying the foot or two of earth which, if unencumbered by it, would have grown corn or violets, or some better thing, is art which proceeds from an individual mind, working through instruments which assist, but do not supersede, the muscular action, of the human hand, upon the materials which most tenderly receive, and most securely retain, the impressions of such human labor.Stones of Venice, I., p. 406.

All fine art requires the application of the whole strength and subtlety of the body, so that such art is not possible to any sickly person, but involves the action and force of a strong man's arm from the shoulder, as well as the delicatest touch of his finger: and it is the evidence that this full and fine strength has been spent on it which makes the art executively noble; so that no instrument must be used, habitually, which is either too heavy to be delicately restrained, or too small and weak to transmit a vigorous impulse; much less any mechanical aid, such as would render the sensibility of the fingers ineffectual.—Aratra Penielici, p. 96.

Great Art Not To Be Taught By Rules.—Do you fancy a Greek workman ever made a vase by measurement? He dashed it from his hand on the wheel, and it was beautiful: and a Venetian glass-blower swept you a curve of crystal from the end of his pipe; and Reynolds or Tintoret swept a curve of color from their pencils, as a musician the cadence of a note, unerring, and to be measured, if you please, afterwards, with the exactitude of Divine law.—Eagle's Nest, p. 88.

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