Sartor Restarus is the biography of the German philosopher Diogenes Teufelsdröckh by Thomas Carlyle. The novel first came out as a serial between 1833 to 1834. It was then fully published in 1836 as a novel. The novel is a commentary on the thoughts of the philosopher Diogenes Teufelsdröckh.
The German philosopher’s work and study are critiqued and reviewed by an English writer. This protagonist of this work Teufelsdröckh is also considered fictional and is seen as a literal device through which Carlyle can prove his thought process.
Table of Contents
Sartor Restarus – Novel
Sartor Restarus, The novel is divided into three parts through which Carlyle criticizes the rationale, philosophy and the materialism which was prevalent his age. The novel is a review by an unnamed Editor for the English publication Fraser’s Magazine of a German book Clothes, Their Origin and Influence.
The novel contains remarks where the editor send messages to the fictional German philosopher for more information since he is not able to explain the content in context to the issue which was taking place in England at that time.
The first book is about the Editor feeling desolate due to the current situation which comprises of materialism and the scientific world which now looks at ‘the Creation of the World’ as something which is as simple cooking a dumpling. The Editor points out that there is something more important and it is ‘clothing’.
To emphasize this, he decides to translate the work of the fictional German philosopher Diogenes Teufelsdröckh. so English will also learn about the importance and the philosophy of clothing.
To understand the philosophy, the Editor believes that a proper understanding of the philosopher’s life is needed. He sends requests to the German office for information on Teufelsdröckh. While he is waiting for the documents to arrive, he talks about long about Teufelsdröckh’s philosophy of clothing.
The papers arrive in six bags without being organized. The bags are marked with a different Zodiac sign. This frustrates the Editor but nothing can be done but organize it on his own. He asserts that he can do this in the ‘noble’ pursuit of the philosophy and this justifies the loss of his health and sense of self for the greater cause.
Teufelsdröckh was left on the doorstep of Andreas and Gretchen Futteral with a roll of gold and a birth certificate bearing his full name. in his ponderings, Teufelsdröckh likens his name to the first garment which a man wears. He then writes that the name of a person predicts his future actions. To back it, he says that Diogenes Teufelsdröckh made him write about the philosophy about clothes.
In this biography of Teufelsdröckh, he goes on to try his hand at law but gives up when he feels that it is not his cup of tea. He goes on to search for a more meaningful occupation. Eventually, he discovers how insignificant he is in the world, and uses this as a point of evaluation in his own philosophical musings.
The third book of the novel is based on philosophy. It departs from the biography which was prevalent in the previous two parts. the initial parts describe how the history of clothing styles serve as symbols.
According to Teufelsdröckh, there are two types of men that are good clothes wearers. It is the ‘dandy’ and the ‘beggar’ both of whom wear ‘Peculiar Costume’. According to the Editor, this part is satire. The book ends with a chapter on the Tailor who is something close to the ‘Creator or a Divinity’ and not only a ‘Man’.
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