Carlyle, Thomas (1795-1881) - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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Literary Criticism

Carlyle's early essays, especially "Jean Paul Friedrich Richter" (1827), "The State of German Literature," "Goethe," "Burns" (1828), "Voltaire," and "Novalis" (1829), are masterpieces of literary and ideological exegesis. However, his critical method, which was uncompromisingly didactic even for its day, was much more a criticism of life than any technical analysis of words on a page; in effect, it was essentially romantic criticism. Carlyle viewed literature as a form of self-revelation and literary criticism as a heightened confrontation of personalities engaged in the quest for moral truth. He stressed the primary need for the "transposition of the critic into the author's point of vision," which is the prerequisite of all historical and biographical as well as literary studies. Like Samuel Taylor Coleridge before him, Carlyle recognized Germany as the great contemporary source of spirituality and inwardness. For Carlyle, however, Goethe rather than Immanuel Kant was Germany's spiritual leader...

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This section contains 2,512 words
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Buy the Carlyle, Thomas (1795-1881) Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Carlyle, Thomas (1795-1881) from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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