Dinah Birch at the TLS:
Enthusiasts for Ruskin are a motley crew, largely because his legacy is so diverse. Whatever their interests or their politics, they can usually claim that Ruskin was on their side, at least at some point in his long creative life. Selective reading is expected. Even the most committed of Ruskin’s followers rarely try to digest his writing in its entirety. He was on their side in this, too. Despite the enormous body of work represented by his books, lectures, essays, letters and articles, he never really believed that literature of any kind could change the world. People who make things – painters, sculptors, builders and craftsmen – meant as much to him as writers. His own drawings and paintings are of distinctive beauty, and if he were not famous for other reasons his reputation as an artist might stand higher. His most sympathetic readers are often of a practical disposition, and find their way to him through a concern for the environment, or buildings, or the teaching of drawing, or through his broader work in education.
For all the richness of his ideas, Ruskin was not a methodical thinker, and he did not trouble himself unduly with any kind of abstraction. This is one reason for the fact that professional academics don’t dominate the community of his readers. Though he was an academic pioneer in that he became Oxford’s first Slade Professor of Fine Art, he was suspicious of universities.