Journal Article

‘Most Free from Personality’: Arnold's Touchstones of Ethics

James Walter Caufield

in The Cambridge Quarterly

Published on behalf of Cambridge Quarterly

Volume 38, issue 4, pages 307-327
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0008-199X
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1471-6836 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/camqtly/bfp017
‘Most Free from Personality’: Arnold's Touchstones of Ethics

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If ‘Culture and Conduct’, as T. S. Eliot claimed, made up the twin poles of Matthew Arnold's thought, then Arnold's notion of culture has been ceaselessly debated ever since he propounded it, but his conduct has been largely forgotten, dismissed as so much ‘Victorian ballast’, in Raymond Williams's phrase. Arnold opened Culture and Anarchy by declaring himself ‘a Liberal tempered by experience, reflection, and renouncement’, and this essay revisits the Arnoldian conception of conduct by focusing on ‘renouncement’ and demonstrating that it forms the basis of his philosophical pessimism and is the master key to his rhetorical style.

Journal Article.  8768 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Art ; Film ; Music

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