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Title: Recontextualizing "the Two Boyhoods": Ruskin, Thornbury and the double lives of Turner
Authors: Leng, A. 
Keywords: Biography
Modern Painters 5
Obscene Publications Act
Poetic prose
Thornbury's biography of Turner
Issue Date: 2006
Source: Leng, A. (2006). Recontextualizing "the Two Boyhoods": Ruskin, Thornbury and the double lives of Turner. Prose Studies 28 (1) : 54-73. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The "Two Boyhoods" chapter in Modern Painters 5 (1860) is widely anthologized because of its "poetry." But I argue that its canonization as poetic prose uncritically valorizes its extreme opacity. "The Two Boyhoods" is obscure because it encodes Ruskin's traumatic discoveries about the double life of Turner - the late, presiding genius of his Modern Painters series. Unpublished correspondence from the Ruskin Library reveals that Ruskin's father pressurized him to be Turner's biographer. Hence "The Two Boyhoods" serves as Ruskin's cryptic, minimalist biography of the secretly disgraced artist. Consequently the chapter needs to be contextualized in terms of its troubled connection with Turner's first biography, Walter Thornbury's The Life and Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner" (1862). Thornbury's universally reviled book would appear to be the execrable Other of "The Two Boyhoods." Yet Ruskin acknowledged it as the sequel to Modern Painters 5, and the two texts have an important (and hitherto unnoticed) material and intertextual relationship. © 2006 Taylor & Francis.
Source Title: Prose Studies
ISSN: 17439426
DOI: 10.1080/01440350600593730
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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