Books: To Goodykin, from a Genius

THOMAS CARLYLE: LETTERS TO HIS WIFE (414 pp.)—Edited by Trudy Bliss-Harvard University ($5).

"My own dearest little Goody," "Best little Goodykin," "Dearest of all Jeannies," "Lovely Princess," "Lovekin." This is no moonstruck sophomore toasting epistolary marshmallows for his sweetie, but one of the finer minds of the 19th century, Thomas Carlyle, addressing his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle. During some 40 years of turbulent married life, Carlyle gradually diluted these honeyed words with wormwood. As Editor Trudy Bliss's generous sampling of Carlyle's domestic correspondence makes plain, he used confectionery phrases to sugarcoat endless pills packed with personal neuroses.

Trigger-nerved, bilious, plagued with insomnia, Carlyle...

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