Culture and Anarchy by Matthew Arnold
An 1869 Essay In Political and Social Criticism

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"Culture and Anarchy" was probably Matthew Arnold's greatest work, and it can still be read with profit today. Mainly a reaction to the social and cultural uncertainties of mid-Victorian England, "Culture and Anarchy" attempts to analyze and solve the problem of anarchy and cultural uncertainty as Arnold saw it in this witty and articulate collection of essays. As the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, "Arnold saw in the idea of "the State," and not in any one class of society, the true organ and repository of the nation's collective "best self." No summary can do justice to this extraordinary book; it can still be read with pure enjoyment, for it is written with an inward poise, a serene detachment, and an infusion of mental laughter, which make it a masterpiece of ridicule as well as a searching analysis of Victorian society. The same is true of its unduly neglected sequel, Friendship's Garland (1871)." "Culture and Anarchy" debates important questions about the nature of culture and society discussing what culture really is, what good it can do, and if it is really necessary. Arnold contrasts culture, which he calls the study of perfection, with anarchy, the mood of unrest and uncertainty that pervaded mid-Victorian England. "Culture and Anarchy" reinforces the continued importance of Arnold's ideas in the face of the challenges of multi-culturalism and post-modernism.

About Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold, a noted poet, critic, and philosopher, was born in England on December 24, 1822 and educated at Oxford University. In 1851, he was appointed inspector of schools, a position he held until 1880. Arnold also served as a professor of poetry at Oxford, during which time he delivered many lectures that ultimately became essays. Arnold is considered a quintessential proponent of Victorian ideals. He argued for higher standards in literature and education and extolled classic virtues of manners, impersonality and unanimity. After writing several works of poetry, Arnold turned to criticism, authoring such works as On Translating Homer, Culture and Anarchy, and Essays in Criticism. In these and other works, he criticized the populace, especially the middle class, whom he branded as "philistines" for their degrading values. He greatly influenced both British and American criticism. In later life, he turned to religion. In works such as Literature and Dogma and God and the Bible, he explains his conservative philosophy and attempts to interpret the Bible as literature. Arnold died from heart failure on April 15, 1888 in Liverpool, England.
Published November 10, 2009 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 156 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History. Non-fiction

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