Reminiscences

Reminiscences

Reminiscences

Reminiscences

Synopsis

Thomas Carlyle was one of the most influential commentators of the nineteenth century: writer, critic, historian, biographer and brilliant correspondent, he dominated his age. Described as `the greatest writer of his time' his Reminiscences lovingly trace the triumphs, sorrows, and achievements of his often turbulent marriage with Jane Welsh. Devastated by his wife's death, Carlyle set down his recollections of their life together with moving directness, in an account that reveals much about his own character. This is the only complete unabridged edition of his work, and a detailed introduction and notes further illumintate Carlyle's compelling and vivid prose.

Excerpt

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) was one of the most important Victorian writers, whose enormous output included literary and social criticism, translated fiction, history, biography and autobiography, and extensive and brilliant correspondence. For several decades he was one of the most influential commentators of the nineteenth century, and some of his works, such as Heroes and Hero-Worship, were to be central texts for large parts of the English-speaking world.

He was born in Ecclefechan in south-west Scotland, the son of pious and hard-working parents who meant him for the Presbyterian Church. Edinburgh University robbed him of this ambition, as did a restless and omnivorous reading which sustained him through a confused adolescence and early manhood while he studied and taught science and mathematics. At the same time he developed a growing interest in German literature and thought, and came to mature literary power in seminal early essays, such as 'Signs of the Times', and the brilliant original fantasy of Sartor Resartus. in 1826 he married Jane Welsh after a prolonged courtship conducted mainly by letter. the Carlyles were to be indispensable to one another in spite of frequent and well-chronicled differences, and when they moved to Chelsea in 1834 they established themselves as original, witty, well-informed characters attractive to an extensive and varied circle of political figures and refugees, thinkers, artists, and writers, including writing women, who found in Jane an example of vigorous and independent intellectual existence.

The Carlyles' upbringing had given them strong religious and ethical ideas, even if their private religious beliefs seemed hesitantly defined. For a time, they had been part of Edinburgh in the age of Sir Walter Scott, and had a wide circle of acquaintance in the literary groups and the working-class neighbourhoods they had known and lived in. As exceptional letter-writers, they kept in close touch with Scotland though spending the rest of their lives in London: the publication of their letters reveals . . .

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