Ruskin on Privileging Certain Forms of Imagination

In his 1857 lecture on “Influence of Imagination in Architecture” to members of the Architectural Association, John Ruskin noted:

If we see an old woman spinning at the fireside, and distributing her thread dexterously from the distaff, we respect her for her manipulation — if we ask her how much she expects to make in a year, and she answers quickly, we respect her for her calculation — if she is watching at the same time that none of her grandchildren fall into the fire, we respect her for her observation — yet for all this she may still be a commonplace old woman enough. But if she is all the time telling a fairy tale out of her head, we praise her for her imagination, and say, she must be a rather remarkable old woman.

From The Two Paths (George Allen edition of 1906), page 136.

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