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Sesame and Lilies

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By: (1819-1900)

"Sesame and Lilies" by John Ruskin is a thought-provoking collection of three lectures exploring the role of education in society. Ruskin delves into the importance of education in shaping individuals and communities, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach that incorporates both practical skills and moral values.

The first lecture, "Of Kings' Treasuries," argues that true wealth lies not in material possessions, but in the pursuit of knowledge and culture. Ruskin highlights the transformative power of books and art in cultivating wisdom and empathy, urging readers to prioritize education over material gain.

In the second lecture, "Of Queens' Gardens," Ruskin explores the role of women in society and the importance of creating nurturing and uplifting environments for personal growth. He emphasizes the need for women to be actively involved in education and intellectual pursuits, challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes.

The final lecture, "The Mystery of Life and Its Arts," delves into the interconnectedness of nature, art, and spirituality. Ruskin celebrates the beauty and harmony found in the natural world and encourages readers to seek meaning and inspiration through creative expression and contemplation.

Overall, "Sesame and Lilies" is a timeless and enlightening read that challenges and inspires readers to reevaluate their priorities and values. Ruskin's eloquent prose and insightful observations make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the transformative power of education and the arts.

Book Description:
Sesame and Lilies proposes and answers the questions, how, what and why to read in the context of how and why to live.

About earlier and later editions of the book containing the first two lectures alone, Ruskin wrote: "...chiefly written for young people belonging to the upper or undistressed, middle classes; who may be supposed to have choice of the objects and command of the industries of their life... if read in connection with “Unto This Last” it contains the chief truths I have endeavored through all of my past life to display… and am chiefly thankful to have learned and taught.” - Avallon, August 24, 1882*

This revised and enlarged edition is comprised of two prefaces and three lectures. The Preface-Last Edition is the preface to the earlier edition and references the Alps. The two lectures, “Of Kings’ Treasuries” and “Of Queens' Gardens,” appeared alone in the first editions and last editions. They were withdrawn from later editions, "not as irrelevant but as following the subject too far, and disturbing the simplicity in which the original lectures dwell on their several themes, -the majesty of the influence of good books, and of good women; if we know how to read them and how to honour."*

The lectures, Sesame: Of Kings' Treasuries and Lilies: Of Queens' Gardens were delivered in December 1864 at the town halls at Rusholme and Manchester. The third lecture, "Of the Mystery of Life and Its Arts" was delivered in the theater of the Royal College of Science, Dublin, 1868 and added to the book in editions first appearing in 1871.

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