The Stones of Venice

My friend J was at a large fika at my house, holding forth about the perennial mystery of Venice. I whispered the only thing I knew about the mystique of that place: some Englishman’s text about it. J winked and nodded, and knew it, of course.  I have not read this work, except as an escape. I’m a cheat, like that.

The Stones of Venice is a three-volume treatise on Venetian art and architecture by English art historian John Ruskin, first published from 1851 to 1853.


Now, you can read this massive thing, scanned at If, for some reason, you’re hiding behind your laptop somewhere boring, you could shield yourself with this. Sip long sentences, taking in the stretches of prose.

Or, if you’re not in a place with a laptop, perhaps with only a tiny screen at your disposal: fear not. You may be in for something better.

Read the same work in the Victorian Web’s translation/proof-reading effort. Great collaborative HTML project! They’ve put lots of reference notes in the side-bar, explaining things in the text, and taking us the extra mile in understanding this work’s impact.

Well, one day I hope to have a printed copy of this thing.

Until then, here’s some excellent – unrelated electronic music.

Outsider architects

Watts Towers, (yes, that Watts) built by an Italian immigrant (to the USA).

In Europe, same weirdness appears:

1879 – 1912
33 years of struggle
10 000 days
93 000 hours

Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman, who built “Le Palais Idéal” by working in his spare time. Here’s a Wikipedia picture:

Le Palas Idéal

Here is a large portrait of the artist who had the slogans: “The work of one man” and “Let those who think they can do better try”.

“Discover the postman’s palace” says the website Facteur Cheval. His work is now a protected cultural legacy.