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Sartor Resartus Revisited: Carlylean Echoes in Crane's the Red Badge of Courage.

Nineteenth-Century Prose 1988, Winter, 16, 1

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That the writings of Thomas Carlyle have been widely influential is, of course, a truism. A reader with a close knowledge of Carlyle often finds echoes of him in unexpected places in the works of others. An example of this may he seen in the works of Stephen Crane. A close examination of The Red Badge of Courage side by side with the "Everlasting No"--"Everlasting Yea" chapters from Sartor Resartus leaves a reader with the impression that Henry Fleming's ordeal and eventual triumph in the Red Badge may well be a kind of subconscious reenactment of the ordeal and triumph of Diogenes Teufelsdrockh in that central portion of Sartor Resartus. While it cannot be proven on the basis of presently available evidence that Crane had read any of Carlyle's works, the possibility of his having done so exists. In the one semester, in 1891, that Crane spent at Syracuse University, the only course for which he received a grade was "English Literature," in which he made an "A". Sartor Resartus had been directly available to American readers since its American publication in 1836. At least key passages of it. such as "The Everlasting No" and "The Everlasting Yea," might well have been included in that "English Literature" course. (1) In my own teaching of Carlyle, I have repeatedly observed the powerful impression that these two Sartor passages make upon students' minds--particularly young students. Because of this, I believe it possible that Carlyle's ideas could have remained in Crane's mind long after he had consciously forgotten about reading them. If this possibility is true then it is further possible that some of these ideas made their way into the Red Badge. Whatever the cause--subconscious influence, coincidence, Zeitgeist--the similarities between the two works do exist. They include not only similarities in situation, but parallel passages, similarities in phrasing, and the use of like images in like situations. Also, with few exceptions, the order in which these parallels occur is the same in the two works.

Sartor Resartus Revisited: Carlylean Echoes in Crane's the Red Badge of Courage.
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  • Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Published: Dec 22, 1988
  • Publisher: Nineteenth-Century Prose
  • Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
  • Print Length: 15 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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