A Man or a Movement? Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle is another stern-faced Victorian who seemed to bridge the gap between the earlier literature of the eighteenth century, and later modernist movements of the nineteenth. Born in 1795 and dying in 1881, he saw a tremendous amount of social upheaval and worldly change as America was founded, and the New French Republic floundered in its birth pangs.
Thomas Carlyle is undeniably influential, being both an author, a philosopher, biographer and mathematician – although some of his legacy could often be considered questionable by todays’ standards. Concerned with history, society and spirituality, his had a spiritual ‘split’ from his austere Calvinistic youth, before later re-affirming a new sort of Christian, minimalist faith. This personal and fictional spiritual journey he depicted in fictional form through his work Sartor Resartus (1836) a book that some claim is the birth of the existential movement.
One of his greatest contributions to sociology is the ‘Great Man of History’ theory, which he sets out in his On Heroes (1841). This is the theory that only great men, or dynamic individuals have ever managed to change and direct history – such as Napoleon, Cromwell, Martin Luther, Mohammed, etc. The rather distasteful inferences of this theory is reflected in the criticism that Carlyle can be seen as one of the pre-cursors to the fascist movement with that unique contribution of hero-worship and existential angst.
However you may assess Carlyle’s true political stance, his stature as an important historical figure is undeniable. His irritable and insightful commentary of contemporary issues give us, as modern collectors, a window to understanding the views of the nineteenth century – as questionable as they may be. For collectors, there are only really three volumes of Carlyle’s that capture his project:
Sartor Resartus (1836) available in fine first editions at auction for as little as five hundred US dollars. Carlyle’s history and study of The French Revolution in three volumes published by James Fraser of London (1837). The very finest editions, because of their enduring relevance to the field are worth something in the order of a few thousand US dollars, although sometimes a first edition hardcover can be found for as little as one thousand USD. The final volume to consider collecting is his 1841 On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History again published by James Frazer. A first edition is available right now at the very reasonable price of four hundred US dollars.
Carlyle, Thomas. Life Of Friedrich Schiller. Taylor and Hessey (1825). Comprehending An Examination Of His Works; 1000 Copies
Carlyle, Thomas. German Romance. William and Charles Tait, Edinburgh (1827). Specimens Of Its Chief Authors; With Biographical And Critical Notices By The Translator Of Wilhelm Meister And The Author Of The Life Of Schiller; 4 Vols
Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus. James Munroe and Company Boston (1836). The Life And Opinions Of Herr Teufelsdrockh; 3 Volumes; Inserted Frontispiece; First U.S. Edition; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Editor And Contributor Of A Three-Page Preface To This Edition
Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus. James Munroe and Company Boston (1837). 2Nd Edition; Author Not Identified On Title Page Or Spine.
Carlyle, Thomas . Critical and Miscellaneous Essays. James Munroe and Co, Boston (1838). Ralph Waldo Emerson, Editor; Four Volumes, Complete Set. American Edition Predating The English Printing.;
Carlyle, Thomas. The French Revolution. Little & Brown (1838). First American Ed; 3 Volumes In 2
Carlyle, Thomas. Chartism.. James Fraser (1840). First Printing; 1,000 Copies
Carlyle, Thomas. Past and Present. Little & Brown (1843). First American Edition. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Editor And Contributor Of A Short Note
Carlyle, Thomas. Latter - Day Pamphlets. Phillips, Sampson, and Co., Boston (1850). No. 1 - March, 1850. The Present Time; No. Ii - March 1850. Model Prisons.; No. Iii - April, 1850. Downing Street; No.Iv - April, 1850. The New Downing Street; No.V - May, 1850. Stump - Orator; No.Vi - June, 1850. Parliaments; Thomas Carlyle, Editor; 7 Pamphlets;
Carlyle, Thomas. Latter-day Pamphlets. Chapman and Hall. (1850). Eight Pamphlets; Thomas Carlyle, Editor
Carlyle, Thomas. German Romance. Munroe And Company Boston (1851). Specimens Of Its Chief Authors; With Biographical And Critical Notices: In Two Volumes
Carlyle, Thomas. History of Friedrich the Second called Frederick the Great. Harper & Brothers (1866). First American Edition; 6 Volumes
Carlyle, Thomas. Work. Chapman and Hall (1874). 36 Volumes In 18
Carlyle, Thomas. Carlyles Complete Works. Dana Estes and Charles E. Lauriat, Boston (1884). 275 Copies; 20 Volumes
Carlyle, Thomas. The French Revolution. Dana Estes and Charles E. Lauriat, Boston (1884). A History; 2 Volume Deluxe Edition; Thirty-Five Copies On Japanese Paper
Carlyle, Thomas. Thomas Carlyles Works. Chapman and Hall (1885). The Ashburton Edition; 17 Volumes
Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus. Kegan Paul (1889). The Life And Opinions Of Herr Teufelsdrockh; Large Paper Edition Of 50 Numbered And Signed Copies; Only Signed By The Printers Charles Whittingham And Co; Binding Is By Fazakerley Of Liverpool; Free Front Endpaper And The Watercolour Coat Of Arms Are Stiffened Japanese Vellum.
Carlyle, Thomas. Works of Thomas Carlyle. Charles Scribners Sons (1903). Edinburgh Edition
Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus. Doves Press (1907). The Life And Opinions Of Herr Teufelsdrockh; 3 Volumes; Limp Vellum; 300 Copies Designed And Printed By T. J. Cobden-Sanderson At The Doves Press
Carlyle, Thomas. The French Revolution. Chapman & Hall (1920). One Complete Volume.
Carlyle, Thomas. The French Revolution. MacMillan (1920). Two Volumes. Bound In Full Red Leather By Riviere. Fine Gilt Work Inside And Out. Marbled Endpapers.Library Of English Classics.