History: E212-M_Carlyle

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Assigned: Sartor Resartus (1077-1103).

General Questions

1. Look up the dictionary meanings of the word "sage." How does Carlyle function as a sage for Victorian readers?

2. What are some characteristics of Carlyle's prose style in any of the selections we are reading? To what effects do you think he uses the ones you identify?

"The Everlasting No"

3. On 1078-80, how does Teufelsdröckh deal with his loss of religious faith, according to the Editor and Teufelsdröckh's own words? In what sense is he "full of religiosity?" What begins to look like the replacement for his once firm faith in the Christian God?

4. On 1081, how does Teufelsdröckh characterize the threat that yawns before him if he can't find the answer to his problems? What threat does the phrase "one huge, dead, immeasurable Steam-engine" represent?

5. On 1082, what is "The Everlasting No"? What is the "Baphometic Fire-Baptism" opposed to "The Everlasting No"? That is, what assertion allows Teufelsdröckh to defy that resounding negation?

"Centre of Indifference"

6. On 1082-83, what is "the old inward Satanic School"? How does the Editor characterize its effects in Teufelsdröckh?

7. On 1083-84, how does Teufelsdröckh begin the process of casting out the Satanic School ? To what things does he turn his attention for that purpose?

8. On 1085-87, Teufelsdröckh waxes eloquent on war. What does he have to say about the causes and effects of war, and what observations does he offer concerning his brief interaction with the Great Man, Napoleon?

9. On 1087-88, Teufelsdröckh goes to the North Cape and meets a cantankerous Russian smuggler. What happens between the two men, and what do you take to be the point of placing such a ridiculous episode here at the end of the chapter on the Centre of Indifference?

10. On 1088-89, what exactly is the Centre of Indifference at which Teufelsdröckh has arrived? In what state of soul or mind does Teufelsdröckh find himself at this point?

"The Everlasting Yea"

11. On 1089-90, how does Teufelsdröckh describe the stage through which he has just passed? What has it made possible?

12. On 1090, the Editor interrupts Teufelsdröckh and offers his own gloss on the Doctor's remarks. What reason does the Editor give for this interruption? Why isn't it a good thing for the readers to hear the whole of what Teufelsdröckh has said in his then-current state of mind?

13. On 1091, how does Teufelsdröckh characterize nature? How does this characterization represent a change in his understanding of nature, and how does he now view his fellow human beings?

14. On 1092-93, what, according to Teufelsdröckh, is the cause of "Man's Unhappiness"? Why isn't happiness an appropriate goal for human life? What, then, is the appropriate thing to do, the "Everlasting Yea," as Teufelsdröckh calls it?

15. On 1094-95, what tasks does Teufelsdröckh set for those who, like himself, have realized the necessity of creating new beliefs and institutions to replace the old? How are we to do that, according to the Professor? How do you interpret Teufelsdröckh's statement (borrowed from Goethe) that "America is here or nowhere"?

"Natural Supernaturalism"

16. On 1096-97, what is Professor Teufelsdröckh's "Philosophy of Clothes," and how is it best understood as a kind of Transcendentalism?

17. On 1098-99, we find the heart of Teufelsdröckh's redefinition of human nature, language, and institutions. How is man like a "Minnow"? What insights does the Professor offer concerning custom, language, and even space and time? How do they all, most significantly, keep us ignorant of the truly miraculous in nature and ourselves?

18. On 1100-02, what is the culmination of meditation on the miraculous? In what sense are we "Spirits" after all? What do you take to be the significance of the statement on 100, "believe it thou must; understand it thou canst not"? Why must we believe the Professor's truths even if he hasn't made them entirely comprehensible to us?

Edition: Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vols. 2A-C. 7th ed. New York: Norton, 2000. ISBN 2A = 0393975681, 2B = 039397569X, 2C = 0393975703.


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