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Old 05-30-2017, 12:31 PM
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Default Book Review: Carlyle's "On Heroes and Hero Worship..."

Book Review: Thomas Carlyle's "On Heroes and Hero Worship..."
(Apollonian, 30 May 17)

Thomas Carlyle's "On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic In History," edited by Archibald MacMechan, Ginn & Co., Boston, NY..., 1901, lxxxviii, 396 pages, 293 text, notes, index, is outstanding for cultural, historical, and psychologic analysis especially in regard to biography's place and relation within history. And Carlyle was notable additionally as (part) inspiration for Nietzsche's "superman" concept. The best thing then about Carlyle is his characterization as it epitomize societies of the time, and within history.

Another virtue is Carlyle's brilliant expositional style, easily readable as well as informative, even though originally written and published in 1841. Thus Carlyle presents six chapters and a final short summary, the first two featuring single characters, the last four featuring several in place of functions which are fulfilled for the culture, poet, priest, men-of-letters, and soldiers. Carlyle most masterfully shows the way.

First, Carlyle shows how heroism is ultimately deified in Godliness, such as Carlyle's first figure of interest, Odin of the Norse mythology. Carlyle then moves, next chapter, to Mohammed and shows the heroism of the prophet. Thus we find and see the great importance of the God, God's character, Godly mythology, and then the prophet who brings such religion, as Mohammed, who amazingly, was not any sort of a scholar, who could barely write his own name, evidently, yet inspired the conquering Arab nation by means of word-of-mouth simplicity, which was later recapitulated fm memory in form of the subsequent Koran, Islam such an amazing religion and movement for all its simplicity and synthesis fm the previous Christian and Hebrew.

The striking thing about Islam then is it's sheer simplicity, as there's no terribly complex theology, Islam the religion of conquest, and command--beleeeeeeeeev, heed, and obey, or else, sucker, rather a throw-back to original Hebrew conception (not Jew/Pharisaic which came much later, 3rd or 2nd cent. BC, and was exposed as hereticalist by Christ--why they killed him).

Next we get the two great poets of the West, Dante and Shakespeare, who feature ability to "sing" words, as in way of music, and it isn't only mere style which sets these heroes apart fm others, for heroes are always SINCERE for their greatest and basic common trait, evidently so that people can best and most easily understand and appreciate. Thus by means of poetry and song, ideas, complex as they might be, are best and most easily transmitted to the mind of fellow humanity. Dante thus conveys the medieval encyclopedia for culture, though subdued in a kind of sorrow, according to Carlyle. Shakespeare then, in contrast, goes further than Dante for a more light-hearted exuberance, Carlyle preferring Shakespeare's vision of happiness.

Next we get the priests who have taken-up religion for actual practice and application, the heroes noted being Martin Luther and John Knox, reformers who confront the corrupt establishment. Luther thus emphasized individual independence as one's own priest, enabled culturally now by the new printing press and availability of Biblic text along w. translation to practical language of the people, Luther providing the first German translation. Knox applied Calvinist rejection of frivolous accretions and complications to Church mythology, like worship of Virgin Mary which he rejected w. contempt which transmitted to England and then New England.

Next are the men-of-letters, not necessarily poets, but men who further convey ideas in more detailed fashion by means of prose, as Samuel Johnson and J.J. Rousseau, aside fm further poetic-type application as the Scotsman, Robert Burns, so much appreciated by fellow Scotsman, Carlyle.

Carlyle concludes his specific expositions w. the soldiers, Oliver Cromwell who applied Puritanism fm Knox, and Napoleon who applied the French Revolution principles for the present late Modernist age.

For myself, Carlyle's magnificent achievement is the integration of psychology w. sociology and history, everything fitting so well and brilliantly, so otherwise unusual, and even though Knox, for example served as a galley slave for a time. And it should be noted Carlyle is so under-rated and even forgotten nowadays as writer, as his heroic exposition is so well and lucidly written, so easily and simply, esp. for the modern reader--who should eagerly embrace Carlyle's masterpiece.

Thus Carlyle's great work on Heroes and heroism was completed in the 1840s, and well serves as prelude for characters of the 20th cent., esp. our dear hero, Adolf Hitler, who fought those vile satanists, so sincerely and so noble-heartedly, despite all the myriad satanic lies told against him for a hubristic and gullible public sated in putrid moralism and Pharisaism.

Another great hero of 20th cent., at least for USA, is Joe McCarthy who also, like Hitler, was so maligned and slandered. Donald Trump seems perhaps to be yet another victim of this kind of slander, but question is regarding his sort of "heroism," as Trump is rather more accurately seen as one who sold his soul to Jews and Israel, and who then and now merely pays the price, Jews making full use of Trump for their own satanic purposes. Regardless, Carlyle's magisterial technique is well demonstrated for picking-out the "great men" which explains and at least demonstrates so much of background culture and history.
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