Sartor Resartus (meaning ‘The tailor re-tailored’) is an 1836 philosophical novel by Thomas Carlyle.
It was overcast and rainy in Chester today, and quite dark by 4.30 in the afternoon. I stopped in at The Architect for an ale (Bragdy’r Gogarth ‘dark abbey ale’ from Great Orme in North Wales). I took a small book from the shelf: a 1906 edition of Sartor Resartus by the Scottish philosopher and satirical writer, Thomas Carlyle.
It was delightful. I ordered another half pint of Bragdy’r Gogarth and read further, loving the gentle and at times silly humour, and the strange written language that was the English of 180 years ago. I asked the barman if I could buy the book, as I doubted there’d be a big rush on Thomas Carlyle any time soon. “Have it,” he replied with a laugh, “put a few coins in the charity box”. And so for a few pennies I now own a 1906 edition of one of Thomas Carlisle’s important satirical works.
“In Carlyle’s view, civilization—that is, religion, government, and all the other institutional garments that human beings weave to clothe themselves—is frayed and shabby and needs retailoring.” –enotes
About describes we enlightened ones in the 21st century rather well I think.
“Sartor Resartus teems with wit, irony, fun, either in the guise of, or gently
mocking from beneath, its seriousness and downright difficulty. It also playfully generates uncertainties between fiction and fact, disguise and the naked truth. The text’s humor, often lurking in obscure absurdities and a Sterne-like play with its own fictionality, tends to give way to a gravitas and profundity which
many nineteenth-century readers, particularly at first in America, found both fascinating and a solace for their evanescing religious faith.”
– Ralph Jessop