the grimsay press

Carlyle Country, The
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By Sloan, J.M. Edited by Mary Hollern, with an introduction by Ian Campbell.
ISBN 1845300696
SERIES Ecclefechan Carlyle Society
Paperback  Second  294 pages
Published 20 May 2010
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The "Carlyle Country"? When Sloan published his book, it was a recognisable entity, and there was already a brisk trade in visitors who thought they might learn about The Sage from visiting "his" country, though nationally and internationally his reputation was at a bit of a lower point. Carlyle's views hardened as he entered his 60s and 70s, and the liberals of his time flinched from some of his trenchant and intolerant criticisms of the society he lived in. Furthermore, his death in 1881 was followed too quickly by the publication of his wonderful (but brutally frank) Reminiscences and an excellent four-volume biography by James Anthony Froude which, while it is an undoubted classic of its kind, came too close on the heels of Carlyle's death and dwelt perhaps a little too much on the Sage's faults and failings. No one disputed Carlyle's importance, but like many who reach international reputation in their lifetimes, he suffered a bit of a lapse after. Reputation was not helped by the events of the 1930s and the rise of illiberal and fascist views in Europe. While Carlyle himself would have execrated the Nazi party and all its works, there were many who linked the ideas of the dangerous right with the later denunciations of the Sage of Ecclefechan. Not until the 1960s was the work of rehabilitation properly begun: a number of important critical books and biographies, and the publication and republication of his works (many of them, woefully, still out of print) and above all of the superb letters of Thomas and Jane in the Duke-Edinburgh edition has made a fair and well-informed judgement possible. Both Carlyles stand, undisputed, as major Victorian figures, indisputably part of the literary London of their century.

A graduate of the Dumfries campus of the University of Glasgow, Mary Hollern has a passionate interest in the life and work of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. She has worked, as a volunteer, for some years at the Arched House in Ecclefechan, where Carlyle was born. In consequence, she has amassed a great deal of local knowledge about the Carlyles, particularly in regard to their connections with Annandale, and the South of Scotland. She is a founding member of the Ecclefechan Carlyle Society.

Ian Campbell joined the English Department of Edinburgh University in 1964, and in 2009 retired as Emeritus Professor of Scottish and Victorian Literature. He is one of the senior editors of the Duke-Edinburgh edition of the Carlyles' complete correspondence.

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