John Ruskin and the Fabric of Architecture

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article review


Anuradha Chatterjee’s book tries to unlock the complex issues involved in Ruskin’s consideration of the fabric of architecture as hinted in the title of the book. She covers the literature relevant to Ruskin’s take on fabric and the importance of the theory of dressing with an eye to the gender dimension of the body and its association with architecture. Page after page the author attempts to relate the reader with Ruskin through a presumed historiographic sense of transparency that does not exist. Under the umbrella of “intertextuality,” she weaves Ruskin’s writings on dressing with various historians’ and critics’ discussions of Ruskin’s theorisation of architecture as a planar ornament, to the point that at times her voice disappears within a list of quotations until she is heard again introducing another relevant subject. What later became clear to this reviewer is that the author has read only the major classics and limited contemporary literature on the subject of dressing and the body as analogical precedents. Missing, for example, is Gottfried Semper’s emphasis on industriousness as part of his discourse on dressing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-443
Number of pages3
JournalFabrications: the journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


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