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A Life of Matthew Arnold by Nicholas Murray
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A Life of Matthew Arnold

by Nicholas Murray

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312151691, Hardcover)

E.M. Forster once wrote that, "Matthew Arnold is of all the Victorians most to my taste: a great poet, a civilised citizen, and a prophet who has managed to project himself into our present troubles, so that when we read him now he seems to be in the room." Forster's words still ring true today, as any recent reader of Culture and Anarchy could attest. A spirited proponent of free and deep thinking and an inveterate opponent of the trite, the commonplace, and the closed-mindedness that he saw in his Victorian England, Arnold was a culture molder, a spinner of thoughts and critical essays, who held a mirror up to an England that would have rather looked away. He was also an activist for free and compulsory education, a poet, and professor, and he shows us how low our contemporary pundits rank among the pantheon of social commentators.

Drawing from the Letters of Matthew Arnold as well as a lode of new research, Nicholas Murray's A Life of Matthew Arnold attempts to bring Arnold into fuller view. A poet himself, Murray has a familiar grasp on Arnold's artistic sensibility. One can't help but think, however, that the title points out an inability to capture Arnold's multidimensionality. The lifelong public servant is not so easily squared with the character Murray has sketched. Nevertheless, this is a superb account of Arnold and one that does much to bring an overlooked but supremely relevant literary figure back into our midst.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:38 -0400)

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