Thomas Carlyle was a multifaceted personality: historian, biographer and essayist. He was born on 4 Dec. 1795 in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland. He went to Annan Academy for his early education then the University of Edinburgh and became a mathematics teacher. He taught mathematics first in Annan then in Kirkcaldy where befriended Edward Irving. Having taught mathematics, he returned to the University of Edinburgh, where he was suffering from an intense crisis of faith and conversion. Subsequently, Carlyle developed stomach ailment that went with him until his death. He was much influenced by German idealism. He was much interested in German literature that brought his life of Schiller appeared in the London Magazine in 1823-24. He studied the works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and translated Gothe’s Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. He proved his mastery over Germany literature by contributing a series of essays for Fraser’s Magazine. As a mathematics teacher, he gave a method used in quadratic equations so-called Carlyle Circle.
Thomas Carlyle married Jane Baillie Welsh in 1826.
His early works cover periodically, these are Cruthers and Jonson, Life of Schiller following the Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship. In addition to essays on German literature, he commented on modern culture resulted in Signs of the Times and Characteristics. Moreover, during these days he also wrote few articles on the great men of letter, including Goethe, Voltaire and Diderot. Followed by his first major work Sartor Resartus, he moved to Chelsea where he worked on his History of French Revolution, it established a landmark in his career as an author, honoured as the Sage of Chelsea. Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities was written using the events of the French Revolution in the novel. Apart from these, his some of the frequently discussed works are: Chartism (1839), past and Present (1834). Carlyle explored himself to what he called ‘the condition of England Question’
His first major work appeared as Sartor Resartus or The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdrokh (meaning the tailor repatched ) followed in Fraser’s Magazine in 1833-34. It was penned under the influence of a German Romanticism, particularly indebted to Richter. It was written in two parts: a discourse on the philosophy of clothes, leading to a conclusion that all symbols, forms, and human institutions are properly clothes. Some of the notable chapters are The Everlasting No, The Centre of Indifference, and The Everlasting Yea.
Heroes, Hero-Worship and Heroic in the History
It based on a series of lectures on the role of heroes in history published in 1841. Like some his other works, it was too, influenced by a German Philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814). As the title itself points out that, it is a record of some great men of letters. It is a version of history ‘ the biography great men’. Carlyle has termed the great personalities of their fields as hero, categorised into six namely Divinity, Prophet, Poet, Priest, man of letters and King, and gave the examples from the history as Dante, William Shakespeare, Martin Luther, John Knox, Samuel Johnson, Jean Jacques, Rousseau, Robert Burns, Oliver Cromwell, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Paraphrases of the poems