This essay is concerned with the relationship between ‘influence’ and ‘appropriation’ as literary concepts – that is to say, with the relationship between tracing how an author’s presence and ideas become assimilated within the cultural production of a specific society as against the way in which an author’s ‘presence’ or ‘aura’ can be invoked to legitimate a range of intellectual, or indeed practical, projects. Such a dialogue between ‘presence’ and ‘absence’ has always seemed a particularly dramatic, and, indeed, particularly moving, aspect of Ruskin’s life and writing. In his first 50 years, Ruskin showed an opportunistic brilliance at creating a public presence, and especially a ‘voice’, at once both melancholy and hectoring, elegiac yet furious, that moved far beyond the discourses surrounding books into many areas of public life. The illnesses of the early 1870s and 1880s at first gave this voice a new-found urgency but finally led to silence, or at best a whisper that could only find its way into public knowledge through the attentive mediating presences of the likes of Joan Severn or George Allen. As Allen noted in an 1898 letter to William Hale White, ‘Ruskin says but little’ and spoke ‘in a low kind of whisper that makes it rather difficult and painful to listen’.1 When Allen tried to goad Ruskin into enthusiasm through saying how much his books were appreciated, the only response was that ‘people thought a great deal more about them than he himself did’. It might thus be possible to argue that Ruskin’s silence was an expressive one – that a pained dumbness was Ruskin’s final eloquent reproach to the nineteenth century. Yet of course there were many, like Allen, who sought to re-inscribe Ruskinian eloquence and Ruskinian ideas on through into the new century. Between 1880 and the First World War, Ruskin, like W.B. Yeats in W.H. Auden’s brilliant elegy, ‘became his admirers’. As Auden asserts ‘The words of a dead man/Are modified in the guts of the living’.2