Matthew Arnold

Stefano Evangelista

in Victorian Literature

ISBN: 9780199799558
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold (b. 1822–d. 1888) is one of the most influential writers of the Victorian age. After receiving a Classics degree from Oxford and spending a brief spell in Paris, Arnold spent most of his life working as a schools inspector. He was elected to the Oxford Professorship of Poetry in 1857. Arnold was an author of both poetry and criticism. His verse includes: The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems (1847), Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems (1852), and New Poems (1867), as well as the classical verse tragedy Merope (1858). Together with Tennyson and Browning, Arnold has been held by critics as one of the representative poets of his age because of his poetry’s difficult negotiations of the legacy of Romanticism and its clear expression of the Victorian zeitgeist, evident, for instance, in the analysis of religious doubt contained in one of his most famous poems, “Dover Beach.” His prolific prose canon includes cornerstones of 19th-century intellectual and critical history such as On Translating Homer (1861), Essays in Criticism (1865) and Culture and Anarchy (1869). The influence of Arnold’s literary, social, and religious criticism has been immense. His work appears so representative of the Victorian age because of its constant effort to understand and scrutinize modernity. Like many other Victorian authors, however, Arnold suffered a period of neglect and hostility in the early 20th century; but his works are now once again recognized as classics and attract a great deal of critical attention both from literary scholars and cultural historians.

Article.  5764 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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