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Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle, 2 November 2000

Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... The contradictory quality of Carlyle’s achievement as intuitive sage, seminal interpreter of German Romanticism, sworn enemy of mechanical and reductive views of life, outrageous ranter and charismatic humbug is already present in the early Sartor Resartus, lively and opaque by turns, a book which inspired the young and bewildered their elders. A devastating social critic over-impressed by heroes and dictators, Carlyle was humane and savage, radical and racist, an agnostic quoted by churchmen and praised as ‘a prophet in the midst of an untoward generation’ in Dean Stanley’s funeral sermon in Westminster Abbey ...

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