Thomas Carlyle: A Biography

Thomas Carlyle: A Biography

Fred Kaplan

Language: English

Pages: 614

ISBN: 080141508X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this definitive biography of the great Victorian essayist Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Fred Kaplan provides a vivid picture of Victorian life as he gives the reader a sensitive and candid portrait of a complex and difficult man.



















of life.” Still, the question of what alternative to pursue remained completely, almost terrifyingly, open. But “Edinr is certainly my destination for the winter.”46 What, however, was he to do in Edinburgh? Having vowed never to return to the work that had made him temporarily independent, he considered various alternatives and decided that for the time being he would study mineralogy (geology) as a postgraduate at the university. In the meantime, he could attempt to supplement his savings with

purgatives, was as good as it had been in years. And finally, his pursuit of Jane, despite the problematical outcome, had avoided what had seemed certain failure, a testimony to his tenaciousness and to her genuine interest in him. Still, he felt restless and unhappy, and since he was angry at himself for being miserable and frightened, the mood could only intensify. Going down Leith Walk on a blazing afternoon in August 1822, Carlyle realized that he had been mistaken all along in believing

off: it returns again with new violence and importunity; the soul cries out for help and deliverance.” But there is still hope in the marvelous fact that “this condition is peculiar to believers. Unregenerate men are not said to be led captive to the law of sin.… Where grace hath the dominion, it will never utterly be expelled from its throne … but its influences may for a season be intercepted.” One confronts, then, the returning season of rage and madness, irritability, short temper, hostility,

as probably for eighteen hundred years there has not been: if I have any light to give, then let me give it.”13 2. But Carlyle wished to do nothing rash or precipitate; the dispensation of light could blind the source as well as illumine the object. Though radiant in his imagination, he felt the need to be cautious in action. Amid so much uncertainty he did his best to resist making practical and emotional commitments that the future might render untenable. Whatever “light” he had to give might

and to experience reality. All systematic critical thought was by definition skeptical, rational, negative. And no belief or conviction could come “out of Negation.”64 The conscious mind, attempting to transcend itself, constantly denied and rejected the true nature of the mind, attempting to impose self-consciousness on an essentially unconscious force. He now saw what no one in Western culture had seen quite as clearly before: the strongest force within man is Nature, which is unconscious,

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