Carlyle on Literature: Conflicting Views
We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
— W. B. Yeats
…In Sartor Resartus, the hero’s struggles are subjects for poetic rhapsody and outrageous humor; in Latter-Day Pamphlets, Peel’s problems inspire only tedious invective. In 1831, Carlyle’s landscape is fabulous and obscure, his style “jeanpaulian,” his irony playful; in 1850, he focuses only moral heat upon the prosaic, in a voice that is remarkable for its shrillness and redundancy.
This apparent contrast of early and late Carlyle disturbed his contemporaries as much as it does the modern reader. Despite an initially poor reception in England, Sartor had circulated widely among British artists and intellectuals by the 1840s…