Duality in the writing of Thomas Carlyle and Charles Kingsley

Collins, Carol (1999) Duality in the writing of Thomas Carlyle and Charles Kingsley. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Commenting on the view that literary work may pose an easy alternative to running a monastery, Thomas Carlyle, in Past and Present, points out that 'literature too is a quarrel, an internecine duel with the whole World of Darkness that lies without and within one'. Crucial to the 'quarrel' within the work of Carlyle and Kingsley is the theme of the dualism of body and soul. For instance, Carlyle's Sartor Resartus has as its central character the dualistic Diogenes Teufelsdrockh (meaning 'god-born devil's-dung') and, in The Saint's Tragedy, Kingsley, aghast at the rise of asceticism exemplified in the Tractarian movement, deals with a German medieval martyr-'s conflict between earthly love and religious calling. Like many writers of his time, Kingsley was greatly influenced by Carlyle, and this thesis seeks to remedy the dearth of criticism on Kingsley's debt to Carlyle, and on the dualism within the writing of both, by examining how both men use a rhetoric designed to explore the relationship between the body and soul. As their writing is so deeply concerned with the condition of their society (Carlyle's treatment of social problems appealed to Kingsley who wished to reconnect the church with social concerns), I consider this theme within a cultural context. I maintain that, due to social changes within the nineteenth century, dualistic ideas had a particular resonance for Carlyle and Kingsley, and my reading of their work involves research into such areas as sexuality, religion, science, health, disease and politics. This study is arranged chronologically to show how Kingsley's work developed under the influence of Carlyle, whose career was well-established when Kingsley began to write. In chapter one I provide a contextual background by examining philosophical and religious views of the body and soul and consider dualistic notions within Victorian society. Chapter two examines Carlyle's dualism, providing a context within which to read Kingsley's work. In chapters three, four and five, 1 then explore the decade 1840-1850 when Carlyle's career was at its zenith and Kingsley began to write. Chapter three considers both writers attitudes to the body and soul in relation to sexuality and marriage. Chapter four looks at their attitudes towards the machine and mechanistic views of man. Chapter five extends this exploration of science to look at how real and figurative disease, and sanitary reform, have implications for the question of whether man is a creation of God or of his environment. Finally, in chapter six, I examine Kingsley's continuing interest in the relationship between body and soul in the 1850s and 1860s, when Carlyle had all but abandoned this concern. I conclude that, although there is an evident similarity in their desires to find a solution to the problem of man's dual nature, Kingsley's project is to produce a unified view of man, while Carlyle recognises the necessary dualism which is inherent in the human condition.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Adviser: Richard Cronin
Keywords: English literature
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-71691
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 09:31
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 09:31
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/71691

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