@lawyergay if you haven't already, check out the Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky. Wonderful design and writing and cartography.
Maria, thank you for this column. Today is Thanksgiving and Sunday's my birthday and this is such a good gift for both.
One quibble. I think you are too harsh on Ruskin. Perhaps not too harsh, but smoothing out some of what makes him so great and so fascinating. While he grew up in an evangelical Christian home, he seems to lose his faith as he ages, and Queen of the Air seems downright pagan. Ruskin's slow onset insanity likely came from his repressed sexuality (his horror of Effie Grey's pubic hair and his later idealization of/obsession with the child Rose LaTouche) and his torment about the ebbing of his Christian faith.
Wolfgang Kemp's biography quotes Ruskin calling himself both a Conservative and a Communist, though he seems closest to Christian Socialism: the Working Man's College, the protests against the dark Satanic mills, the (legitimate!) concern over the automation of everything, and the price that would exact.
You are quite right that he was paternalistic. Also, his attitude toward women was also quite weird, even by the standards of the time. But I must forgive him all this, and his rather frequent histrionics because of his incantatory writing style and his honest struggle to feel, and to make others feel, what it means to be alive.
@davetar please do not neglect the even earlier "Better Yet, Connecticut." It had a fake rhyme and like the current Maine one makes you wonder "better than what?" It's all this vague one-upmanship going on.
what everyone else is saying, but this is so good I need to add my two cents. original, sincere, witty, humane. thank you.
This is so beautifully written and true. Such a worthy tribute. Thank you, Maria.