Arnold, Matthew. (1822 - 1888).
L i f e
- son of Dr Thomas Arnold (1795 – 1842): a clergyman, headmaster of the Rugby School, and the godfather of Victorian earnestness
- preoccupied with creating a system of education for the middle classes
- an anti-Victorian figure x but: characteristically Victorian in his assumption the puritan middle classes can be changed
W o r k
- concern: how to live a full life in a modern industrial society?
P o e t r y :
- concern: his loneliness as a lover, longing for a serenity not to be found, and despair in a universe with humanity’s role seeming incongruous
- dissatisfied with his poems (“Empedocles on Etna”), attempted to meet his own requirements x but: failed (“Balder Dead”) and abandoned poetry
“The Scholar Gypsy”:
- a joyful celebration of the freedoms of a student’s escape from routine
- an elegiac monody on the dead Arthur Hugh Clough (1819 – 61, poet)
P r o s e :
- concern: to formulate ‘ideals’ to ‘heal’ a sick society
- culture = an open-minded intelligence to view life in all its aspects, the social, political, and religious, and to cure the ills of a sick society
Essays in Criticism (1865, 1888):
- a 2-volume collection of literary critical essays
- argues for the virtues of a plain style and for ‘high seriousness’: the poet as a serious thinker offering a guidance for his readers
“The Study of Poetry”:
- criticizes the uncultured England x praises the European cultural heritage
“The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”:
- literature and literary criticism serve to produce a cultured society
Culture and Anarchy (1869) and Friendship’s Garland (1871):
- provocative socially critical tracts
- criticizes the ‘Philistine’ bourgeoise for their dullness and ignorance
- uses cajolery, irony, satire, quotations from the newspapers, and memorable catchwords (‘sweetness and light’)
Literature and Dogma (1873):
- a religious critical tract
- the Church should serve to produce a civilized society
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)
AuthorMatthew Arnold. (1822 - 1888). British.
WorkCritic. Poet. Author of Culture and Anarchy (1869).
GenresMid-Victorian prose (non-fiction) and poetry.
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Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"And we are here as on a darkling plain / Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night."
From "Dover Beech" (1867).