Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ruskin and the Pathetic Fallacy

John Ruskin's (arch-Victorian & thus anti-Romanticist) 1856 polemic (from an invetrate polemicist) Of the Pathetic Fallacy shows him driving a wishful nail into the undead coffin of Romanticism in general & Samuel Coleridge in particular.
§ 8. The temperament which admits the pathetic fallacy, is, as I said above, that of a mind and body in some sort too weak to deal fully with what is before them or upon them; borne away, or over-clouded, or over-dazzled by emotion; and it is a more or less noble state, according to the force of the emotion which has induced it. For it is no credit to a man that he is not morbid or inaccurate in his perceptions, when he has no strength of feeling to warp them; and it is in general a sign of higher capacity and stand in the ranks of being, that the emotions should be strong enough to vanquish, partly, the intellect, and make it believe what they choose. But it is still a grander
condition when the intellect also rises, till it is strong enough to assert its rule against, or together with, the utmost efforts of the passions; and the whole man stands in an iron glow, white hot, perhaps, but still strong, and in no wise evaporating ; even if he melts, losing none of his weight.


pigeon said...

Today's word on dictionary.com is "Perpatetic" (Nov. 10).

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

Cool! Check the spelling though - now we're 1-1, with another 1 under dispute ;--)