[Note 1 to the Preface 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. GPL]

decorated initial 'T'he importance of the work done on the early writings of Carlyle in the past thirty years should not be underestimated, and this study would not have been possible without it, yet it is nonetheless the case that the number of studies focused on Sartor Resartus continues to equal, or nearly equal, studies of all the other works combined. As G. B. Tennyson has written in his bibliographical essay on Carlyle, "What is now needed is for some of the serious and capable critical attention directed to Sartor and some of the techniques developed in modern Sartor and general Carlyle criticism — as in the works of Holloway, Tennyson, Levine, LaValley, and others — to be directed to other Carlyle works" ("Thomas Carlyle," 99-100). The tendency to focus on Carlyle's development up to the time of writing his masterwork, Sartor Resartus, has been present from the beginnings of modern Carlyle studies and has continued in recent years. Studies in this category include much of the best criticism of Carlyle, for example, C. F. Harrold's Carlyle and German Thought, Hill Shine's Carlyle's Fusion of Poetry, History, and Religion by 1834, G. B. Tennyson's Sartor Called Resartus, and Jacques Cabau's Le Prométhéé Enchainé.

This tendency is most marked in otherwise sound and important studies that focus on the development of Carlyle's thought on particular issues rather than on particular works, but which nonetheless do not pursue the development of these ideas beyond the midpoint of his career, studies like Philip Rosenberg's The Seventh Hero and Ruth apRoberts's Ancient Dialect. Rosenberg stops his discussion with Past and Present (1843) because, he argues, Carlyle did not develop any "new insight, even a deplorable one" after that date. Rosenberg concludes that "these writings seem . . . scarcely worth reading and even less worth writing about" (p. x). One cannot help but notice that the later Carlyle does not accord very well with the very attractive Carlyle whom Rosenberg portrays in his book. It is only fair to add that there have been some excellent studies that do examine Carlyle's entire career, most notably George Levine's The Boundaries of Fiction as well as his "Use and Abuse of Carlylese," and Albert J. LaValley's Carlyle and the Idea of the Modern.


Victorian Website Overview Thomas Carlyle Next Contents

Last modified 5 October 2001