Victorian Thinkers

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  • Topic: Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Victorian era
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  • Published : February 25, 2013
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Victorian Thinkers (Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin)

Victorian Thinkers contains studies of four of the most influential critics of 19th-century British culture. Each was heralded a prophet in his own lifetime, and yet each was also regarded as misguided, and even mad, by his contemporaries. Their interests in art and culture led them to develop views on society and economics. Carlyle was a writer of extraordinary stature, radical in thought and style; Ruskin, who began his career as a critic of painting and architecture, developed his views to produce critiques of economics and social welfare; Arnold was a poet and literary critic, a definer of "culture" who later turned to social issues; and Morris, renowned for his work as artist and designer, championed a revolutionary socialism which would honour the civilizing effects of the arts. A.L. Le Quesne is also the author of "After Kilvert". George Landow has also written "The Aesthetic and Critical Theories of John Ruskin" and "Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows: Biblical Typology in Victorian Literature, Art and Thought". Stephan Collini is also the author of "Liberalism and Sociology", "That Noble Science of Politics" (with Donald Winch and John Burrow) and "Public Moralists: Political Thought and Intellectual Thought and Intellectual Life in Britain 1850-1930". Peter Stansky is also the author of "Redesigning the World: William Morris, the 1880s, and the Arts and Crafts". Matthew Arnold, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and William Thackeray are among the Victorian thinkers to earn the title of “sage”(мудрец). To some degree, the Victorian sages were respected and enjoyed by people from all social classes. They were certainly considered intellectuals and trailblazers of alternative viewpoints. They passed their message through public speaking, periodic columns in newspapers, poetry, and in novel-form. It is a difficult task to describe them as a group because they were each so unique in their style and beliefs. Yet, their focus and aims had much in common.

Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881) was in many ways the founding father of the Victorian literature of ideas. He was a popular satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher from Scotland in the Victorian era, born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire. Apart from being blessed with excellent thoughts, he was completely devoted towards his family. His work was extremely attracting to most Victorians who were clashing with changes in science and politics, which actually endangered the traditional social order. Controversies circled around him when he called economics as "The Dismal Science" and wrote several articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia. Carlyle's collected works (1974) comprises of 30 volumes. One of his most famous works is "On Heroes And Hero Worship".

Childhood & Early Life
Carlyle was born on December 4, 1795 in Ecclefechan, Dumfries and Galloway. Initially, he went to Annan Academy, at Annan, but due to continuous nagging and harassment, he left it after three years. Carlyle was deeply influenced by the beliefs of Calvinist. Afterwards he attended University of Edinburgh and later on became a mathematics teacher. He taught initially in Annan and then in Kirkcaldy. In Kirkcaldy, he befriended the mysterious Edward Irving. Carlyle returned back to University of Edinburgh in 1819. By 1821, Carlyle withdrew from his career as a clergyand completely focused to make himself a writer. His first work “Cruthers and Jonson” was not well received. While translating teachings of Goethe's “Wilhelm Meister”, he commenced disbelief in the form of the realistic novel and therefore, focused on establishing a new form of fiction. Apart from writing German literature, he branched out into wider ranging commentary on modern culture in his influential essays “Signs of the Times and Characteristics”. During his stay at the university, which was until 1821, he went through immense crisis of faith...
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