: Past and Present : Carlyle Thomas, Thomas Carlyle: Books. Thomas Carlyle , Scottish essayist, historian, cultural critic, and leading man of English letters during the Victorian era, published Past and Present. In the process, Past and Present transforms epic as myth [/] or text into epic as fertile nation, enabling Carlyle to imagine the recuperation of the lost idyll.


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Past and Present Summary

Instead of defending the status quo, the speakers for this new class seek to reform England, prodding the government to act, rejecting the claims of vested interests, and denouncing the belief that "there is nothing but vulturous hunger, for fine wines, valet reputation thomas carlyle past and present gilt carriages" ; see, Past and Present succeeds where Chartism had failed because it does not attempt to frame its argument within the discourse of political economy but employs the rhetoric of religion to create an thomas carlyle past and present discourse of value.

Rather than simply providing a critique of' contemporary society, Carlyle is able to create a vision of an alternative social order.

He understood that his audience had allowed its religious beliefs to be separated from its everyday life in the world of industry, and Past and Present was his most effective piece of social criticism precisely because it created a powerful and relatively coherent ethical discourse that thomas carlyle past and present on the religious rhetoric with which his audience was familiar and applied it to the circumstances of their everyday lives.

Yet Past and Present only partially succeeds in reuniting the domains of religion and economy, for it envisions an escape from the commercial world into the transcendental idyll.

  • Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle - Hardcover - University of California Press
  • Past and Present by Thomas Carlyle: Summary
  • Full text of "Past and Present Thomas Carlyle's Collected Works, Vol. XIII."

It succeeds in part by making ethical discourse more powerful than the discourse of economy, but it remains powerful only in its visionary mode.

At those moments when Carlyle presents his vision as a social and historical process, he turns to political force rather than religious beliefin order to achieve the transcendental idyll.

The "old Epics" written on paper are no "longer possible," so the English epic must be "written on the Earth's surface"; see ; CME, 4: When Carlyle refers thomas carlyle past and present to "[tlhis English Land," the connotations of nation and culture elide thomas carlyle past and present the connotations of physical land and agriculture Instead of an expression of belief that transfuses the world and makes it an idyll, the idyll is a product of labor that literally builds a "green flowery world.


Throughout Past and Present and Carlyle's later writings, land reclamation and agriculture are the privileged forms of labor, coterminous with the aboriginal creative act, God's creation of the world in Genesis esp.

The parallel with Genesis suggests that labor as creative activity continues the process through which the material world is infused with the transcendental order see PP, In the chapter entitled "Labour," Carlyle typically represents work as the thomas carlyle past and present of a "pestilential swamp" where land and water mingle in "a green fruitful meadow with its clear-flowing stream" 0 These metaphors imply that the productions of agricultural labor-arable thomas carlyle past and present permanent, while the productions of cultural labor — religious or literary texts — are ephemeral.

Carlyle's representations of the "Captain of Industry" owe a great deal to his enthusiasm for the men who were leading "poor starving drudges" out to found new colonies, to settle new lands CL, 9: His support for emigration and colonization projects in Chartism and Past and Present is intimately linked to his vision of creation as the colonization of wasteland.


Drawing on his depiction of creative work as bridge-building, he describes emigration as a "bridge" to the new world, a bridge that functions as a link between the earthly and thomas carlyle past and present transcendental PP, ; see CL, 9: His writings distinguish two types of emigration, the transformation of wasteland into a paradise and the discovery of an El Dorado thomas carlyle past and present the end of one's journey.

The former is preferable because the process of seeking the idyll, labor, creates the idyll, whereas, in the latter case, the process of journeying only serves to defer achievement of that goal.

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Discovering that their "America" is "here or nowhere," both turn to the creation of the idyll by working at "the duty which is nearest" SR, ; see WM, 2: Carlyle, who thomas carlyle past and present increasingly inclined to associate writing with the endless search for the established El Dorado, contemplated going out himself to produce "bread" in one of the "waste places of The shift from cultural to agricultural production in Past and Present, like the shift from belief to the law, entails a transition from compelling belief to compelling obedience.

So long as Carlyle employs the metaphor of battle only to depict the struggle of the nation as a whole to create social order, it does not imply coercion or compulsion, but when he treats it more literally as the conquest of new lands, he begins to legitimate imperialist suppression and the very commercial motivations he intended to thomas carlyle past and present.

These tariffs on imported grains were established to eliminate foreign competition and to keep the price of English farm products high; they also effectively robbed working people of their daily bread.

Bobus Higgins, for example, typifies the fatuous, greedy middle classes, incapable both of self-rule and of choosing worthy leadership. Written as a response to the economic crisis of the s—closure of factories, loss of jobs, the growth of slums in industrial centers, the starving poor—Past and Present aimed to lead readers toward a "conversion experience" in order to stimulate social reform.

The true good of this life, the portal of infinite good in the life to come. Oliver Cromwell's body hung on the Tyburn gallows, the type of Puritanism found futil, inexecutable, execrable.

Past and Present: Epic as Action (Chapter 4)

The Spiritualism of England, for two godless centuries, utterly forgettable: Her practical material Work alone memorable. Bewildering obscurations and impediments: Giant Labour yet to be King of this Earth. A game-preserving Aristocracy, guiltless of producing or apportioning anything.