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The Passion of John Ruskin1994

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  • 3.1
Set in 1850s London, a tale of the scandalous marriage of a great scholar whose only knowledge of women comes from the art that he studies.

Member Reviews (2)

top reviewer

The story goes that Ruskin, accustomed to seeing statues of classic nude women with no pubic air, was so put off by his bride's public hair that he could not have sex with her. She was so unaesthetic. I think this is the legend the film refers to. However, it seems the real story is much more complicated.

2 members like this review
top reviewer

This would be a very good ice-breaker for a course on Victorian culture. I would show the film and then ask students if they found the story plausible in the sense that it is something they could see happening today. The discussion would then be about why and why not. The real story unfolded essentially as the film narrates it, with allowances made for minor changes any filmmaker who does not claim to be making a documentary might have made to make the story easier to follow or the characters easier to understand. John Ruskin could not exist in our time but, when we look back at him or, for that matter, any historical figure, we evaluate their responses using the same expectations we would if they were living in our time and responding out of all the things people learn to desire, fear and take for granted coming of age in our time. In this case, doing so means missing the fact that what Ruskin learned coming of age when and were he did was very different. "It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it." was Ruskin's response to the annulment of a marriage left unconsummated for six years. There has been much speculation about what aspect of Effie's person so completely checked Ruskin's passion. I like to imagine an alternative universe were Effie noted that none of the artistic nudes Ruskin worshiped had public hair and shaved in the spirit of better safe than sorry. And they lived happily ever after?