Language and The Man & When Dreams Seem a Million Miles Away


“I absolutely demand of you and everyone I know that they be widely read in every damn field there is;
in every religion and every art form and
don’t tell me you haven’t got time!
There’s plenty of time. You need all of these cross-references. Y
ou never know when your head is going to use this fuel, this food for its purposes.”

–  Ray Bradbury

The following is excerpted from a lecture by John Ruskin on “The Relation of Art to Morals.”

Through this series that revisits 19th century authors, BriteLites invites discussion of topics that remain important to WordSmiths.


According to Ruskin,

The chief vices of education have arisen from the one great fallacy of supposing that noble language is a communicable trick of grammar and accent, instead of simply the careful expression of right thought. All the virtues of language are, in their roots, moral; it becomes accurate if the speaker desires to be true; clear if he speaks with sympathy and a desire to be intelligible; power, if he has earnestness; pleasant, if he has sense of rhythm and order.  There are no other virtues of language producible by art than these.


I take from this portion of Ruskin’s essay – presented almost 150 years ago – that heart-led writing will prove most effective.  One of the most memorable statements my agent made to me upon accepting my first novel was that she looked for people who put their hearts into their writing.  From her, I understood that skill and even talent were secondary to writing that had heart.  Interestingly, the etymology of “courage” is heart and innermost feelings.

I’d very much like for readers to post brief samples (100 words max) of writing that has heart.

If you’d like to read the entire Ruskin essay (or any of the others in the series), write me and send the title.


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