Sometimes I must take my own advice.
When I created my GRE reading list, I made it not just to help myself remember everything, but also as a study guide for anyone else who wishes to use it. However, my intentions were not to read, or reread, the works on the list. It took me many years to get through all of those works, including the several lists I have yet to post, so I would not think it feasible or practical to suggest someone plow through it in a few months, or even a year (unless they do nothing but read every day). My intention was towards creating an easy reference guide, a refresher to skim through.
I walked into my own trap. Sartor Resartus.
It is no secret I have a weakness for comedy. The story itself is only funny if you pick up on the allusions. Like the time my friend sent me a picture of Madonna with her newborn baby and I couldn’t stop laughing (Madonna and Child). Yeah, just like that. While the jokes in Sartor seem like literary allusions now, they were just the pop culture of the day. And still funny now.
I didn’t know this when I first read it, but another friend showed me the meaning of the names in the work years later, which made it that much more hilarious, as I reread it noting that the Professor of all things General, from the town Somewhere Over There, discusses the implications of ossified national notions through a metaphor of clothing (explained through the meaning of the title).
Nevertheless there is far more to the work than a well written comedy, drawing on the works of some of my other favorite writers and their philosophies, not to mention how it influenced many works to come. For many years the implications of Sartor can be heard through literature and criticism.
Yet it is the way in which Sartos is presented that makes it a better read than others expressing the same ideas. The message is not wryly presented through a series of essays, but rather retailored in an all too irresistible comedic form. I guess that was the point.
Tonight I only reread half of the work, but will probably stay up reading the rest. I am too giddy to put it down. For my sake there better be at least three Carlyle questions on the GRE. Then I can in good conscience say I spent the evening conducing useful “research.”