Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


On December 6, 1864, John Ruskin delivered at Rusholme Town Hall in Manchester a lecture entitled "Of Kings' Treasuries." Little more than a week later, he delivered in the same venue "Of Queens' Gardens," both of which he would publish the following year under the single title Sesame and Lilies. Seven days after his death on January 20, 1900, an obituary article appeared on Ruskin in a Parisian paper, authored by Marcel Proust, who would devote much of the next five years to a close study of Ruskin's works and, though he knew very little English, to translating two of those works into French, The Bible of Amiens (1885) and Sesame and Lilies. As a recent biographer has claimed, "This intense involvement with the works of Ruskin, entailing the study of French history, geography, architecture, and the Bible, was to prove crucial to the development of Proust's own style and aesthetics" (Carter 292). Indeed, the central idea of his "Against Sainte-Beuve," an essay that evolved into what we know today as Remembrance of Things Past and In Search of Lost Time, restates one of the chief claims of Ruskin's "Of Kings' Treasuries," that we should come to a work with no idea whatsoever of either our own preconceptions or anything we might know or assume about the author, that we will acquire the "old enchanted Arabian grain, the Sesame, which opens doors" to the treasuries of great literature only by "putting ourselves always in the author's place, annihilating our own personality, and seeking to enter into his" (30).

Publication Title

Philological Review: Publications of the Arkansas Philological Association

Publisher Statement

Copyright 2011, Arkansas Philological Association, Published by the University of Central Arkansas Press.



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