Noble and Ignoble Grotesque  

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Noble and Ignoble Grotesque  from the The Stones of Venice
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Noble and Ignoble Grotesque from the The Stones of Venice

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Noble and Ignoble Grotesque[1] is an drawing by John Ruskin for his book the The Stones of Venice, vol III.

For observe, the difficulty which, as I above stated, exists in distinguishing the playful from the terrible grotesque arises out of this cause ; that the mind, under certain phases of excitement, plays with terror, and summons images which, if it were in another temper, would be awful, but of which, either in weariness or in irony, it refrains for the time to acknowledge the true terribleness. And the mode in which this refusal takes place distinguishes the noble from the ignoble grotesque. For the master of the noble grotesque knows the depth of all at which he seems to mock, and would feel it at another time, or feels it in a certain undercurrent of thought even while he jests with it ; but the workman of the ignoble grotesque can feel and understand nothing, and mocks at all things with the laughter of the idiot and the cretin.

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