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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Little Melting Professor »

July 30, 2006



I'm not very optimistic about the Jane Eyre movie either. Isn't Rochester supposed to be... um... not quite a Hollywood-leading-man-looking kinda guy? Maybe they should try it as a Tim Burton claymation film.

Bourgeois Nerd

The guy who's going to play Rochester is in EVERYTHING! He sure knows how to keep busy.

What I love most about that list of actors is that most of them have appeared in one version or another of an Agatha Christie adaptation.

John Quiggin

As is obvious from the post, my knowledge of the literature on Carlyle is limited, to put it mildly. So feel free to set me straight.

My comment was based on his entry in Wikipedia, which states "This association with fascism did Carlyle's reputation no good in the post-war years, but "Sartor Resartus" has recently been recognised once more as a unique masterpiece, anticipating many major philosophical and cultural developments, from Existentialism to Postmodernism. " Google seems to support this, pointing to this paper which describes Carlyle as a "proto-postmodernist" (this is imputed to Trevor Hogan, but I couldn't chase the reference).

My willingness to accept this reflects the similarity between Carlyle and Carl Schmitt, who certainly has ben rehabilitated, despite being an outright Nazi. Both Schmitt and Carlyle, it seems to me, are muddled obscurantists, with whom power-worship passes for clarity of thought.


The article you're looking for is Trevor Hogan's "The Religion of Thomas Carlyle" in Linda Woodhead, ed., Reinventing Christianity (Ashgate).

There's Carlyle scholarship in toto, postmodernist interpretations of Carlyle, and interpretations of C as a proto-postmodernist (e.g., Rainer Emig's "Eccentricity Begins at Home: Carlyle's Centrality in Victorian Thought"). The field is fairly vast--MLA pulls up over 500 articles and books published in the past two decades, most of them thematic or contextual studies--and I feel rather hesitant about generalizing about what the "postmodernists" are or are not doing. Obviously, there's still enthusiasm for C in less salubrious and non-postmodernist circles (a search for "Carlyle" and "fascism" certainly pulled up some icky links).

John Quiggin

Thanks for this, Miriam. One of the great things about blogging is that a snarky aside can lead to learning all sorts of things I'd normally never even think about.


One thing that has endeared Carlyle to many fascists, both in Hitler's time and now (especially in Britain), is his anti-Semitism, which was pretty bad. And he anticipated other fascist values, notably hero worship, authoritarianism, and nationalism. But it should be said that fascism operates in a particular social context for a particular reason: it occurs at moments of great social crisis and serves the big capitalists by diverting the masses from class consciousness and socialist revolution, mobilizing them instead around a cluster of themes that appeal to their wounded narcissism. Clearly, this wasn't Carlyle's agenda. What he was, I think, was a reactionary utopian, a Romantic (born the same year as Keats) who lived too long into the very bourgeois 19C.

Snork Maiden

Alice Chandler certainly saw Carlyle as a Romantic/medievalist in 'A Dream of Order', although she does trace his romanticism in part to his readings of the Germanic Romanticists which I guess would tie in with certain elements of Nazism.

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