Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review of "The King of the Golden River," by John Ruskin

Review of
The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin

Five out of five stars
 This is a fairy tale that I read at least part of when I was in elementary school. I believe it was one of the short stories in a class reading book. It bears a lot of resemblance to the classic story of Cinderella, only with the genders reversed. There are three brothers, Schwartz, Hans and Gluck, with Gluck the youngest. The elder brothers are greedy and miserly, treating Gluck as little more than a slave to be exploited. Yet, Gluck is very kind-hearted and believes that his wealthy family should provide some assistance to the less fortunate.
 When Gluck engages in an act of kindness, he is beaten for it and their once lush valley is decimated by bad weather and the loss of a vital river that is called the “Golden River.” The three brothers are told what to do to fix the problem, but when the two oldest set out separately to correct the situation, their self-centeredness leads to their failure. However, when the good-hearted Gluck makes the attempt, his apparent failure turns out to be the right path and the valley is once again green and productive.
 This story about suffering at the hands of family members before achieving success is a common one in fairy tales and in life. Which is what makes it such a powerful tale of the human condition. Winning by doing the right thing is often dismissed, yet it happens far more often than is conceded by many. Making it a good lesson for young people.

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