Kennedy and Boyd

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By Carlyle, Thomas. Edited with an Introduction by Ian Campbell and K.J. Fielding, with additional material
ISBN 1849210004
Paperback  200 pages
Published 14 July 2009
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Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) is now recognised as one of the most important writers of the nineteenth century in Scotland, in the United Kingdom, in the English-speaking world. As critic of an increasingly machine-oriented and profit-driven society, he argued for moral values, respect for the individual,and a good ethical basis to society. As historian and critic he achieved enormous success as "Sage of Chelsea" despite his humble beginnings as the son of an Ecclefechan stonemason. It was the death of his father in 1832 which triggered the beginning of his "Reminiscences", biographical essays of wonderful detail clearing out his memories under the stress of sudden bereavement. The process took much bigger form when his talented wife Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801-66) suddenly died, leaving him lonely and shattered in the realisation how much their married life had meant to him -- and filling the loneliness with this passionate, regretful and often brilliantly detailed picture of their life together over several decades. The "Reminiscences" show Carlyle, often a difficult author, at his most human and most approachable. As a picture of Scottish working-class life they are as illuminating as their insight into the literary and aristocratic circles in London both Carlyles occupied in the 1840s and 1850s. Their unique correspondence, now being edited in the Duke-Edinburgh edition (37 volumes to date) reveals them as the most talented letter writers of their century.

Ian Campbell joined the English department of Edinburgh University in 1964, and in 2009 retired as Emeritus Professor of Scottish and Victorian Literature. He is one of the senior editors of the Duke-Edinburgh edition of the Carlyles' complete correspondence.

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