[Chapter 2, note 5, of the author's Carlyle and the Search for Authority, which the Ohio State University Press published in 1991. It appears in the Victorian web with the kind permission of the author, who of course retains copyright. not in print version indicates a link to material not in the original print version. GPL]

Carlyle had finished translating the second part of Wilhelm Meister just before beginning these attempts at fiction, and its influence is clear. Apart from its opening, Wotton Reinfred has much more in common with Meister than with Werter. Like Meister, Reinfred sets out on a journey after losing his beloved to another man. The House in the Wold, where freethinkers engage in highly philosophical conversations, resembles Lothario's castle, where Wilhelm discovers a secret society of men dedicated to higher knowledge. Wotton discovers his rival in the House in the Wold, just as Meister encounters the husband of the countess he had nearly fallen in love with in Lothario's castle. Finally, Wotton Reinfred owes a great deal to the style and narrative methods of Wilhelm Meister

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Last modified 5 October 2001