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‘Arch of rosy clouds’

November 7, 2011

This special Stillness of Heart series explores the Morgan Library & Museum’s fascinating exhibit, “The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives.”

Part 10 focuses on John Ruskin, an English writer, academic, and critic who, like so many others presented in the Morgan Library exhibit, turned to a diary to assuage the pain of depression and anxiety. Ruskin, however, went a step further and used his diary as a primary resource in the study and analysis of his own disorder. As the introductory essay points out, Ruskin “was determined to study his own patterns and learn enough about himself to remain sane. … He re-read his earlier entries, searching for signs leading up to his breakdown, underlining key words and phrases, compiling an index of his experience, and putting down on paper all he could remember of his psychotic visions.”

“No getting things done in this house. Lost all yesterday calling on Marshalls in morning. Fine afternoon, throwing down stones in the wood with Diddie and Maggie. Exquisitest purple I ever saw on hills, in afternoon, and arch of rosy clouds all over old man [a nearby mountain] and opalescent green-blue and rose over blue Helvellyn, divine, but my evening spoiled by finding the poor chaffinch’s nest in ruins, and nestlings dying. A hawk, I fancy, pouncing on the mother;– not able to return for the brood. “

Examine images of his diary and listen to the museum’s audio guide here.

Entries in this series:
Part 1: Introduction to the exhibit and Charlotte Brontë
Part 2: Frances Eliza Grenfell
Part 3: Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Part 4: Paul Horgan
Part 5: John Newton
Part 6: Mary Ann and Septimus Palairet
Part 7: Walter Scott
Part 8: Bartholomew Sharpe
Part 9: Tennessee Williams
Part 10: John Ruskin

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One Comment
  1. ” …learn enough about himself to remain sane.” This should be universal advice.

    Your blog is dense with a variety of topics that would keep me here all day!

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