Carlyle’s Metaphorical Dynamic of History: or How to Trace a Grand Narrative in the French Revolution

  • Noël Parker
Part of the Insights book series (ISI)

Abstract

Apart from specialists in literature and Victorian cultural history, not many people refer to Thomas Carlyle as an authoritative literary critic. He is not many people’s idea of a historian either — though his The French Revolution: A History was republished in a new edition in the recent bicentenary year.1 Yet, he was an enormous figure in the nineteenth-century intellectual world and he has continued to intrigue a considerable band of analysts and students. Erudite, severe, dogmatic and latterly bigoted almost to the point of insanity, he was a sage, a prophet of ills in the modern world of urbanisation, democracy and mass culture. He was not afraid to put himself on the line in questions of literature, history, politics or philosophy. And his writings set the terms for an entire Victorian generation of intellectuals

Keywords

Titan Coherence Flare Hunt Lution 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    T. Carlyle, The French Revolution: A History, ed. K. J. Fielding and David Sorensen (Oxford University Press, 1989), hereafter referred to as FR, with page references given in the text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    T. Carlyle, ‘On History’, in Critical and Miscellaneous Essays (London: Chapman & Hall, 1870) vol. ii, p. 173, hereafter referred to as CME, with essay titles and volume and page references given in the text.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For example, M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism, Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (London: Oxford University Press, 1971);Google Scholar
  4. Harold Bloom (ed.), Thomas Carlyle (New York: Chelsea House, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. See also John P. Farrell, Revolution as Tragedy: The Dilemma of the Moderate from Scott to Arnold (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1980) for Carlyle’s contribution to a nineteenth-century tragic vision of the Revolution.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    See Albert Lavalley, Carlyle and the Idea of the Modern (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1968);Google Scholar
  7. John Clubbe, ‘Epic Heroes in The French Revolution’, in Horst W. Drescher (ed.), Thomas Carlyle, 1981 (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1983);Google Scholar
  8. John Clubbe, ‘Carlyle as Epic Historian’, in J. R. Kincaid and A. J. Kuhn (eds), Victorian Literature and Society: Essays Presented to Richard D. Altick (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1985);Google Scholar
  9. John D. Rosenberg, Carlyle and the Burden of History (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 7.
    John Holloway, The Victorian Sage: Studies in Argument (London: Macmillan, 1953);Google Scholar
  11. G. B. Tennyson, ’Sartor’ called ‘Resartus’: The Genesis, Structure, and Style of Thomas Carlyle’s First Major Work (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1965);Google Scholar
  12. Gerry H. Brookes, The Rhetorical Form of Carlyle’s ‘Sartor Resartus’ (Los Angeles: University of California, 1972).Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    Fraser, the magazine’s editor, to Carlyle, Letters of Thomas Carlyle: 1826–1836 (London: Macmillan, 1888) vol. 2, p. 128.Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    T. Carlyle, Sartor Resartus (London: Chapman & Hall, 1891) book 1, ch. iv, pp. 21 and 22; hereafter referred to as SR, with book, chapter and page references given in the text.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    J. Derrida, De La Grammatologie (Paris: Minuit, 1967) ch. 2, esp. pp. 231–2.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    Peter Allan Dale, The Victorian Critic and the Idea of History: Carlyle, Arnold, Pater (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977) p. 45 and see ch. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 16.
    C. F. Harrold, ‘Carlyle’s General Method in the French Revolution’, Proceedings of the Modern Language Association, vol. 43 (1928), pp. 1150–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 17.
    H. M. Leicester, ‘The Dialectic of Romantic Historiography: Prospect and Retrospect in The French Revolution’, Victorian Studies, vol. xv (September 1971) No. 1, pp. 5–17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Editorial Board, Lumière (Co-operative) Press Ltd 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noël Parker

There are no affiliations available

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