The first half of this introduction to Qoheleth reads the book as a record of ideas mulled over by a dandy at a series of salons. While scholars have attempted to impose order on the book’s structure and classify it according to genres, I formulate an understanding of the speaker’s lively wisdom from the extraneous voices of John Galsworthy, Beau Brummell and Oscar Wilde. Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored) serves as a model of fictional philosophy that allows us to appreciate Qoheleth’s existential concerns as both ironic and serious. I keep references to biblical commentaries at bay and create a typology within which the biblical sage comes to life as a social creature of comfort. Part II will draw a specific parallel between the book’s first chapter and a collage by the conceptual dandy Marcel Duchamp. For the moment Qoheleth’s charms are given a fresh face via creative interdisciplinary comparison.
See 12.9 and Thomas Krüger, Qoheleth: A Commentary (trans. O.C. Dean; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), p. 207 n. 9e, for the sense of ןקתas ‘put into a good order, arrange a collection of proverbs (thus HALOT)’ – and thus my ‘suit out’.
See 12.9 and Thomas Krüger, Qoheleth: A Commentary (trans. O.C. Dean; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), p. 207 n. 9e, for the sense of ןקתas ‘put into a good order, arrange a collection of proverbs (thus HALOT)’ – and thus my ‘suit out’.)| false
Carlyle, pp. 218-19. The colonial name for the native southern African is now considered pejorative – as might be the generalization about the size of his backside. But Carlyle is in fact mocking the fashionable white man’s affected tone and his assumption that there is a single and superior ‘delicate taste’. I leave it to the reader to determine whether or not ‘posterial luxuriance’ is necessarily a negative physical characteristic.
Carlyle, p. 179.
Carlyle, p. 24.
Carlyle, pp. 211-12.
Carlyle, pp. 6, 14-16. Equally, Qoheleth’s wealth of experience situates him well above the fray.