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Unto This Last and Other Writings

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  306 ratings  ·  25 reviews
First and foremost an outcry against injustice and inhumanity, Unto this Last is also a closely argued assault on the science of political economy, which dominated the Victorian period. Ruskin was a profoundly conservative man who looked back to the Middle Ages as a Utopia, yet his ideas had a considerable influence on the British socialist movement. And in making his powe ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 368 pages
Published October 31st 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1860)
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Tim Shen Sorry, I've only just finished reading this and my response may be too late. I bought the Penguin Classics version. I'm not sure if the collection of …moreSorry, I've only just finished reading this and my response may be too late. I bought the Penguin Classics version. I'm not sure if the collection of writings is the same as the Oxford edition but I found Clive Wilmer's introduction and comprehensive notes in the Penguin edition to be invaluable. I also think it's a very well thought out collection of writing. Hope that might be of help.(less)

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E. G.
Further Reading

--The King of the Golden River, or The Black Brothers: A Legend of Stiria (1841)

from The Stones of Venice, Volume II: The Sea-Stories (1853)
--The Nature of Gothic

from The Two Paths: Lectures on Art and its application to Decoration and Manufacture (1859)
--The Work of Iron, in Nature, Art, and Policy

from Modern Painters, Volume V Part IX: Of Invention Spiritual (1860)
--The Two Boyhoods

Unto This Last
--Essay I: Th
Jacob Aitken
Ruskin, John. Unto This Last and Other Writings.

This is a collection of John Ruskin's economic and social writings. Placed against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution, it is attempt to think through issues of capitalism, socialism, and moral ontology. Like any economic writing, it needs to be taken into account for today's technology. The best way to approach this is to see it as a riff on Augustine's Civ. Dei. 19.

Architecture and Ontology

the quality of architectural adornment is affected
Jun 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Unto This Last is the best political economy essays I've read. Ruskin's business was art and made his living as a critic. This does not seem to be the best foundation for a politcal economist but it does once you start reading... great art is not made possible without the distribution of wealth being directed in a way where society values its creation.

If that description sounds left, it is, and Unto This Last ultimately shaped Gandhi's philosophies and put them into practice when he started his
May 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Ruskin may have been a social critic of the time, but his works does little to inspire the world of today. His only contribution to today’s society is how to appreciate gothic architecture. To address your readership as delusional is not a great way to introduce yourself. It’s almost as if you’re telling your reader that they can’t make up their own mind. This fierce attack leads onto a capitalist rant, much of which is hard to follow and the ideas come thick and fast without thought for his rea ...more
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Ruskin believed in the Middle Ages and resented that they had ever ended. In this particular book – a collection of four lectures on contemporary economics, published in 1862 – the Middle Ages are not exactly front and center. They hover in the background, however, and Ruskin achieves an unexpected synthesis in prescribing a sort of socialism which is also, clearly, an echo of the ancient guild system.
Marts  (Thinker)
Essays on the principles of political economy by John Ruskin.
The essays are as follows:
Essay 1 - The Roots of Honour
Essay 2 - The Veins of Wealth
Essay 3 - Qui Judicatis Terram
Essay 4 - Ad Valorem

As summed up in the closing remarks:

"And if, on due and honest thought over these things, it seems that the kind of existence to which men are now summoned by every plea of pity and claim of right, may, for some time at least, not be a luxurious one; -- consider whether, even supposing it guiltless, lux
Haythem Bastawy
Oct 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This is Ruskin at his best. The four chapters are very organised, he masterly refuted economic theories and typically tried to add the human factor and the human value to the economic equation. The book is a credit for a highly acclaimed art critic, who very easily, it seems, criticised economic theories and made it look as though he could really criticise anything and add valuable opinions to every street of life.

It is no wonder he got attacked in an age when capitalism was at its most vicious
Richard Thompson
There is a reason why Ruskin is remembered as an art critic and not as an economist. There are so many fallacies in these essays that after a while I quit trying to analyze them and just let the words flow over me. Ruskin did write well, so the flow of the words gives a certain pleasure. Ruskin had a good heart, and he was not the only one to see the heartlessness in the theories and practices of classical economics. But Ruskin’s response to this problem is to prescribe that we all must behave l ...more
Oct 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Ruskin, known primarily as an art historian and critic, had the far-ranging genius needed to take on socio-economic and political theorizing as well. This collection is a difficult read, but is surprisingly relevant for today's global economic crisis. If only the various wings of the Tea Party would read this, the destructive faith in the oxymoronic Free Market ideology might lose some of its hold on them. And the Christian elements would delight in and get righteously schooled by Ruskin's compl ...more
Aug 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: John Ruskin lovers
Interesting but flawed scio/economic theories of a forgot scholar.
Joseph Kugelmass
May 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The glorious first blossoms of a mature, modern utopianism.
Jul 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Heavy going for me but with moments of brilliance.
Ian Boyd
A tough read, especially due to the distance between our two economic systems. Ruskin was preaching against (from what I can tell) somewhere in-between a mercantile and capitalist economic system, whereas I am in a neoliberal capitalist system. For this reason, the book makes for a great historical resource to introduce what the opponents of the burgeoning capitalist economy were criticizing. J.S. Mill is named explicitly; so I wish I knew something about Mill. If I am to ever read this book ag ...more
Brandon Cook
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: beautiful-prose
Brilliant introduction to a brilliant writer. Here is Ruskin the art critic, the social critic, the economist, and the conservative. There's also the prose stylist which evolves from an earlier and meticulous maker of shimmering paragraphs, to the more tongue-in-cheek critic of the later essays and lectures.

Wish there were more Ruskin in print: as I understand it now, there is really only "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" and some of "Modern Painters" still widely circulated.
Benjamin Dawson
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
On the back of this book it says that Proust declared of Ruskin: "He will teach me, for is not he, too, in some degree the Truth?"

This is one of the most interesting and compelling works of non-fiction I've read, ever. A monumental thinker.
JD Welch
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Such a slog. Gave up about halfway through.
Timmy Connelly
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As unto thee.
John R Naugle
Nov 15, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: favorite
Wow! I learned through a wiki-page that this book greatly influenced Gandhi. It stated: "... he received a copy of Ruskin's "Unto This Last" from a British friend, Mr. Henry Polak, while working as a lawyer in South Africa in 1904. In his Autobiography, Gandhi remembers the twenty-four hour train ride to Durban (from when he first read the book), being so in the grip of Ruskin's ideas that he could not sleep at all. Gandhi said: "I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of th ...more
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a review of 'Unto This Last' only: I recently read Ghandi's 'Experiments with Truth' and wanted to see what could have influenced him so heavily. It's difficult to find anything to disagree with in these essays - except the whole underlying premise that given a chance, and education, people will do right. If only......
It's surprisingly modern in tone, very readable, and I've found an excellent life motto from it:
"waste nothing, and grudge nothing." Sums it up, really.
Matt Parker
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
I've been reading essays from this bit by bit for quite some time. I really wish I'd made updates for each essay, because some were really extraordinary (commentaries on Gothic architecture), some were fascinating insights into the history of economics (Ruskin was an Adam Smith contemporary), and some were... just... huh (his fiction).
Chris Herdt
Nov 01, 2016 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite part of this book so far is one of the footnotes, where Ruskin raves about the importance of the writings of Charles Dickens, and in particular, Hard Times.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved it. Lots to consider in this book. One I will certainly re-read.
Tim and Victoria Cronin
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Listened to audio
Jesse Goodrich
Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
from Sesame and Lilies, Ruskin's thirty-two page lecture: Of Kings' Treasuries is an absolute must read.
Feb 20, 2008 marked it as to-read
Mentioned several times in Status Anxiety.
rated it it was amazing
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John Ruskin was born on 8 February 1819 at 54 Hunter Street, London, the only child of Margaret and John James Ruskin. His father, a prosperous, self-made man who was a founding partner of Pedro Domecq sherries, collected art and encouraged his son's literary activities, while his mother, a devout evangelical Protestant, early dedicated her son to the service of God and devoutly wished him to beco ...more

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