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398Philosophy and Literature up against its obvious limits. Forty years ago, in an academic climate which had declared Emerson obsolete, Whicher hypothesized diat if there was an early "naive rhapsodist" Emerson, there was also a "mature" Emerson, chastened into a "soft determinism" by his final "acquiescence" to fate. But that thesis itself seems destined for extinction. Like a big, lumbering dinosaur, it simply can no longer keep up with the increasingly subde analysis his work has inspired or the renewed seriousness with which it is taken. Michigan State UniversityMichael Lopez Coordinates ofAnglo-American Romanticism, by Richard E. Brandey; xi & 207 pp. Gainesville: University Press ofFlorida , 1993, $29.95. Richard E. Brantley's project in Coordinates of Anglo-American Romanticism seems altogether worthy. He sees Locke as founder of the empirical method, sees Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley as heirs of Locke, and both of them as exemplars of the empirical-evangelical nexus, this despite their differences, the Calvinism of the one and the Arminianism of the other. Then he takes up Carlyle and Emerson as flowers ofthis empirical-evangelical strain. Evangelical? Certainly there are elements of empiricism in evangelicalism: the insistence on the experience of personal conversion, and the conviction of salvation by faith. But evangelicalism means a lot more than the merely experiential. It has to mean, essentially, the grounding in the Gospel. And theologically it has meant a thoroughgoing belief in the "verbal inspiration" of the Bible, the Bible as sole authority, and the near return of Christ. It has been anti-Roman Catholic and antiliturgy, and places a high value on the importance of preaching. This last respect, the preaching, is the only one that has meaning in the cases of Carlyle and Emerson. They both found Christianity restrictive, and moved outside and beyond it. Neither is particularly close to the Gospel. In fact, Carlyle very pointedly avoids talking about Jesus. He talks about Odin and Mahomet, and reveres them, along with other "heroes." He quotesJesus only once that I recall, and that is when Jesus is quoting Proverbs (John 9:4). Both Emerson and Carlyle were thoroughly liberated from "verbal inspiration"; both, in fact, are intensely interested in metaphor and allegory, and metaphorical or symbolic interpretation of literature and of the cosmos. Neither puts forward the sole authority of the Bible: Emerson moves out to Plato and the neo-Platonists, the sacred books of the East, Montaigne's skepticism, and so on; Carlyle (alias Teufelsdröckh) had read "in most Publick Libraries . . . and Colleges, except Reviews399 the Chinese Mandarin ones," and for him the Great Book of Revelation is History. Neither expects the near return of Christ, and neither deplores Roman Catholicism. Carlyle, in fact, in his study of medieval history, reminds us that the medieval values were Roman Catholic values, and he thereby counters the current Protestant prejudice against Rome. However, both Carlyle and Emerson do preach. And ever since John Holloway's TL· Victorian Sage (1953), we have understood the preaching to be a secular substitute for the pulpit. It is a misrepresentation to call it "evangelicalism" as Brantley does. The poet as vates or propL·! is a commonplace among Romantic writers, and it is a secularization of a religious idea. Carlyle is really the supreme example ofthe secular preacher, and habitually— and brilliandy—uses metaphors of religion to explain what is unquestionably his humanism. Even his "baphometic fire-baptism," while put in terms of evangelical conversion, was a realization that he did not have to believe in the Christian gospels. It is a rejection of evangelicalism, and a stage toward a "new gospel," that is, a different gospel. But Brantley reads literally. If Carlyle or Emerson speaks oífreedom, he takes it as theological freedom. If they speak of change, he takes it as conversion. And finally there is a blurring of empiricism with evangelicalism, as though the evangelicals had a monopoly on experience! Of Brantley's subjects, I know Carlyle best and am distressed by inaccuracies about him. Brantley says Carlyle admired Edward Irving, and therefore must have favored evangelicalism. Yes, Carlyle loved Irving as a friend, and was utterly appalled when Irving turned evangelical and had miracle cures in his church and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 398-399
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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