"Why is it, Susan Stewart asks in her deeply researched and gracefully written book The Ruins Lesson, that 'we so often are drawn–in schadenfreude, terror, or what we imagine is transcendence–to the sight of what is broken, damaged, and decayed?'. . . . Stewart is among our most erudite readers of poetry. She is a philologist in the old-fashioned sense: a scholar who combines knowledge of several European and classical languages, a historical awareness of the development and interaction of their literary traditions, and a commitment to philosophical aesthetics that one feels even in her close readings. But she is also a poet, and writes with unfaltering clarity and poise. Finally (a word Stewart might object to), she is a discerning art critic–a skill on full display in her new book."–Robyn Creswel "The New York Review of Books"