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Sartor Resartus, Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh, Thomas Carlyle, c1890s


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Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrockh
by Thomas Carlyle


Publisher: F. M. Lupton Publishing, New York
Copyright: No date printed, c1890s

Condition: This book is in fair condition. Hardcover. Red cloth and paste-up paper boards are worn and scuffed. Gilt titles on spine. Interior hinges cracked. Text block is crisp and clean. No markings.

Sartor Resartus (meaning 'The tailor re-tailored') is an 1836 novel by Thomas Carlyle, first published as a serial in Fraser's Magazine in November 1833-August 1834. The novel purports to be a commentary on the thought and early life of a German philosopher called Diogenes Teufelsdröckh (which translates as 'god-born devil-dung'), author of a tome entitled Clothes: Their Origin and Influence, but is actually a poioumenon. Teufelsdröckh's Transcendentalist musings are mulled over by a skeptical English Reviewer (referred to as Editor) who also provides fragmentary biographical material on the philosopher. The work is, in part, a parody of Hegel, and of German Idealism more generally. However, Teufelsdröckh is also a literary device with which Carlyle can express difficult truths.

Sartor Resartus was intended to be a new kind of book: simultaneously factual and fictional, serious and satirical, speculative and historical. It ironically commented on its own formal structure, while forcing the reader to confront the problem of where "truth" is to be found. In this respect, it develops techniques used much earlier in Tristram Shandy, to which it refers. The imaginary "Philosophy of Clothes" holds that meaning is to be derived from phenomena, continually shifting over history, as cultures reconstruct themselves in changing fashions, power-structures, and faith-systems. The book contains a very Fichtean conception of religious conversion: based not on the acceptance of God but on the absolute freedom of the will to reject evil, and to construct meaning. This has led some writers to see Sartor Resartus as an early existentialist text.

According to Rodger L. Tarr, "The influence of Sartor Resartus upon American Literature is so vast, so pervasive, that it is difficult to overstate." Upon learning of Carlyle's death in 1881 Walt Whitman remarked: 'The way to test how much he has left us all were to consider or try to consider, for the moment the array of British thought, the resultant and ensemble of the last fifty years, as existing to-day, but with Carlyle left out. It would be like an army with no artillery.'" Tarr suggests the influence of Sartor Resartus on American writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Margaret Fuller, Louisa May Alcott, and Mark Twain. Both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, however, read and objected to the book.

4.25" x 6"
282 pages
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