ABSTRACT

Harold Bloom’s introductory study of Ruskin’s literary criticism, first published in 1965, identifies three Romantic figures (Turner, Wordsworth, and Shelley) as Ruskin’s ‘essential teachers’. 1 Bloom singles out Wordsworth’s ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Earliest Childhood’ as ‘at one with the central and decisive experiences of Ruskin’s life’, 2 which he interprets as distinguished by both the intensity of its vision and the desolation of its loss. Bloom’s argument places Ruskin squarely within his conception of a ‘visionary company’, finding his work a product of the ‘radical version of Romanticism his entire sensibility incarnated’. 3 Writing on Ruskin again in 1986, Bloom refines his analysis of the critical authority of John Ruskin in the light of his own theory of vexed inheritance. ‘In some sense’, Bloom remarks, ‘all of Ruskin’s critics are driven back to origins, Ruskin’s and their own, because that may be the largest power of his work, to compel us to the dangerous recognition that origin and aim cannot be separate entities, however much we seek to honour Nietzsche’s great injunction that, for the sake of life, we ought to keep them apart.’ 4