Cecil Y. Lang's edition of Arnold's letters (Univ. Press of Virginia, 1996-2001) has been completed, and Arnold scholars everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief now that they will finally have access to a modern edition of correspondence comparable to those which exist for most other major Victorian authors. I was not able to examine a copy of the sixth and final volume prior to completing this essay so I will reserve my discussion of the edition as a whole until next year, but now it is appropriate to focus on aspects of the fifth volume (early 2001) that are most likely to be of interest to those who care about Arnold's works and career. Following that, I will take note of a few significant critical studies of Arnold during the past year and briefly discuss trends in Arnold scholarship.
Volume five covers the period 1879-84, years in which Arnold published two new collections of essays (Mixed Essays, 1879; Irish Essays, 1882); other important individual essays, including those he contributed to T. H. Ward's The English Poets (1880) and the classic "Literature and Science" (1882), later incorporated into Discourses in America (1885); and a few new individual poems, notably "Westminster Abbey," his elegy on A. P. Stanley (1882). Arnold's editions of selected poems of Wordsworth (1879) and of Byron (1880) are of considerable significance as well (especially that of Wordsworth), as I will discuss below. His letters to publishers Alexander Macmillan and George Smith chronicle the publishing history of these significant works, as well as more obscure but interesting publications such as the second part of Arnold's edition of Isaiah meant primarily for English school children (Macmillan, 1883), completing the project he had begun in the early 1870s; and The Matthew Arnold Birthday Book, published b y Smith and Elder, a collection of 365 mottoes for each day of the year selected from Arnold's poems by his daughter Eleanor. As with Smith and Elder's 1880 edition of 212 Prose Passages selected from Arnold's work and his contribution to Dr. Wallace Wood's edition of The Hundred Greatest Men: Portraits of the One Hundred Greatest Men of History (1879-80), the primary motive behind Arnold's participation in these popular genres of the time was to earn a little extra income during a troubled financial period in his personal life.
Arnold's letters to his publishers, then, constitute one of the two most obviously significant groupings of the letters in this volume. The other is, as in Arnold's correspondence during every period of his life, letters to family members. After the death of his mother in 1873, Arnold continued to write to the old family home at Fox Howe, now addressing his letters to his unmarried, youngest sister Frances, who continued to live there as the resident matriarch. Several of the most interesting letters in volume five are among the thirty addressed to "Fan," although there are also some important ones addressed to other siblings, especially sister Jane ("K") Forster and brother Tom. A letter of September 15, 1880 to Fan is particularly revealing about Arnold's attitude toward letter-writing: "I think much of my dear K, and shall write to her soon. I never write a journal, but I tell my story in letters, which is the better and pleasanter way."
Arnold's comment underscores the special significance that his correspondence--especially letters to family relations--held for him. In particular, readers of this volume will appreciate the way Arnold "tells the story" of his lecture tour of America (October 1883-March 1884) in his letters back to England: to Fan, to Jane, and to his younger daughter Eleanor, who, unlike her older sister Lucy, had remained at home.
Although Arnold was a veteran lecturer, he was not used to the large lecture halls he encountered in America. When he first presented his lecture "Numbers," to a crowd of 1300 at New York's Pickering Hall, his voice projection was inadequate, and he was distressed to learn that many people in the audience (including Ulysses S. Grant) were unable to hear him. He arranged for elocution lessons and trained for his next performance a week later in Boston, where (in a slightly smaller hall) it went much better. Arnold did not possess great skills as a performer, but as he repeated his lectures many times, he memorized the words, and this aided his delivery. Overall, Arnold was pleased with the reception of "Numbers," and he delivered it eighteen times in America, often enough to make the text all too familiar to him but not nearly so often as the twenty-nine times he repeated "Literature and Science." In "Numbers" Arnold draws on both Isaiah ("Many are called, few chosen") and Plato ("The majority are bad"), and h e deliberately challenges what he believes to be the not uncommon fallacy among Americans that the majority is always right. This lecture also includes Arnold's notorious comments about the French and their worship of the "great goddess Lubricity." "Literature and Science" is of course Arnold's classic defense of the study of literature which originated as an answer to the challenge presented by T. H. Huxley's lecture at the opening of Sir Josiah Mason's Science College at Birmingham in October 1880, later published as "Science and Culture."
Arnold limited himself to only three lectures on his American tour: the third and most controversial one was "Emerson." When Ralph Waldo Emerson died in April 1882, Arnold thought of editing a collection of his works for Macmillan, but he found that John Morley had already agreed to write a preface for such an edition. Arnold was invited to write an essay on Emerson for Macmillan's Magazine, but he was busy with other projects and deferred writing the essay again and again. Although he planned, for obvious reasons, to use "Emerson" as one of his American lectures, he wrote Jane on the eve of his departure that he had not yet written a line, though he reminded her that "I always found him of more use than Carlyle, and I now think so more than ever." As he reported to Fan, he spent much of his time on the ocean voyage reading Emerson's Essays and his correspondence with Carlyle, and in spite of his busy schedule he managed to finish the lecture during the first month of his tour. The draft he had completed by m id-November was so rough that a Boston printer refused to print a lecture copy from it. (Charles Eliot Norton, the Harvard professor of fine arts who became one of Arnold's closest American friends, had the job done for Arnold at the University Press.) Arnold presented "Emerson" for the first time on December 1 at Boston's Chickering Hall. Although he was anxious about its reception in Massachusetts, he thought that Emerson himself would have been satisfied with it and predicted that it would help the American's reputation in England.
Expressing the admiration for Emerson he had felt since his undergraduate days at Balliol College, Oxford, Arnold begins his lecture by linking the American with J. H. Newman and Goethe, and he closes by making large claims for Emerson: Emerson is finally superior to Carlyle, and his essays are the most important work done in prose, just as Wordsworth's poetry is the best work done in verse. Yet Arnold does not refrain from pointing out Emerson's limitations: he is not a "great poet" and, furthermore, "his style has not the requisite wholeness of good tissue" to qualify him as a great writer or man of letters. Although Emerson's family had no complaints about the lecture and the Nation described it as a "great success," many of Emerson's admirers were displeased. The Literary World complained about Arnold's "iconoclastic habit" of "forever pulling down." Sensitive to this sort of criticism, Arnold decided to deliver the lecture "Numbers" when he visited Emerson's home town of Concord, but he presented "Emerso n" a total of eighteen times in America, and again at the Royal Institution a few days after returning to England.
Arnold spent most of November and December lecturing in New England cities and college towns. During the Christmas season he visited Philadelphia, Washington, Richmond, and Baltimore. In January he traveled west, stopping at Madison, Chicago, and St. Louis. Then, as he made his way back east, he took a more northerly route, through Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec, before returning to New York. He set sail for England in early March 1884. Arnold's adventures in America had many odd and ironic aspects. He began his stay in New York as the guest of industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie, whose mother gave Arnold advice about his speaking style. (Carnegie had helped to encourage the American tour in the first place by hosting a dinner at London's Grand Hotel at which he introduced Arnold to some prominent Americans.) Although Arnold could never agree with Carnegie's ideas about measuring the quality of life by material accomplishments or quantifiable statistics, Carnegie admired Arnold and freely adapted Arnold 's concept of culture in his philanthropic projects. But many Americans did not share Carnegie's views. Confronted with diverse audiences, Arnold sometimes made miscalculations in addressing them. The haughtiness and pomposity often associated with Arnold's image in England (qualities emphasized in contemporary satires) made him even more vulnerable before an audience of nineteenth-century Americans who tended to express a general insecurity and defensiveness toward all things British. Especially in the Midwest, where his audiences were smallest and least enthusiastic, he was criticized for his perceived elitist manner.
In preparing this section of the volume, Lang makes effective use of an excellent source of information about Arnold's American tour that has long been known to specialists in the field: Chilson Hathaway Leonard's unpublished Ph.D. dissertation entitled "Arnold in America: A Study of Matthew Arnold's Literary Relations with America and of His Visits to This Country in 1883 and 1886" (Yale, 1932). Lang mines Leonard's account for pithy quotations from the American press coverage of Arnold and inserts them at appropriate locations among the letters. Everywhere he went, Arnold was hounded by the journalists, whom he considered vulgar and intrusive. Even after his return to England, Arnold's negative opinion of American newspapers was intensified when he became the victim of a journalistic hoax. The editor of the Chicago Daily News, angry at the rival Chicago Tribune for pirating his foreign news reports, wrote a bogus story about a very ill-natured account by Arnold of his visit to Chicago--which had supposedly appeared in the "Pall Mall Journal"--and through a devious scheme arranged to have it picked up by the Tribune. When the Tribune printed the story, Daily News reporters fanned the flames by interviewing individuals who had been insulted in the Tribune article. The Tribune then published an editorial lambasting Arnold and describing his visit to Chicago as a miserable failure. Even after the hoax was exposed, this incident seemed to contribute to the overall unpleasant impression of Arnold's visit as it was discussed in American journals. Nevertheless, in the long run Arnold made a greater impact on America than any other nineteenth-century British or European critic.
Most importantly to Arnold at the time, the American trip was at least moderately profitable and allowed him to pay off an old debt to publisher George Smith, who in 1878 had loaned about one thousand pounds to Arnold, enabling him to pay his son Dick's gambling obligations at Oxford and help finance the young man's emigration to Australia. (By 1882 Dick had returned from Australia where he had found a wife but not the fortune which would have allowed him to pay back his father.) However, Arnold was not satisfied with the American managers of his tour (associates of Richard D'Oyly Carte, the leading impresario of English operetta, who had booked Oscar Wilde for an American tour in 1881), and in a letter to Fan he speculated that he might make three or four times as much money with less effort if he arranged things differently in a future tour of the United States. But his financial situation was improving in other ways. Just before his departure for America, he was granted an annual pension of [pounds sterlin g]250 from the Gladstone government as a public recognition of service to the poetry and literature of England." This was a welcome addition to his annual school inspector's salary of about [pounds sterling]1000, though he accepted it reluctantly, knowing that the fund available for literary pensions was small and "literary men ... numerous and needy," as he put in an August 1883 letter to John Morley, MP. One unexpected side-effect of the Arnold family's visit to America was the engagement and subsequent marriage of Arnold's daughter Lucy to Frederick Whitridge, a young New York lawyer. A century later, Arnold Whitridge (1891-1989), son of Lucy and Frederick, helped make Lang's edition possible by supplying him with numerous manuscript letters written by his famous English grandfather.
Arnold's travelogue as incorporated into his letters, full of ironic wit and perceptive observations about American people and places, is highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in late nineteenth-century America and Britain and in the cultural relationship between the two. Before leaving this important volume of letters, however, I want to touch on another topic of more specialized interest to Arnold scholars that is associated with certain letters to Arnold's publishers (supplemented by related commentary in letters to Fan and others): the evolution of Arnold's critical ideas about poetry during this late but important period (after his own most productive years of writing poetry had receded far into the past). In producing his 1879 edition of Wordsworth for Macmillan, Arnold's goal was to make Wordsworth's poems as widely read as Milton's, and in a sense his essay was intended to promote Wordsworth's reputation rather than offer a thorough criticism of his works. In a letter to Fan he expres sed his opinion that Wordsworth "can show a body of work superior to what any other English poet, except Shakespeare and Milton, can show ... [and] superior to the body of work of any Continental poet of the last hundred years except Goethe. This ... seems to me to be the simple truth." He believed that his method of arranging the poems by "kind" rather than Wordsworth's own intricate way, according to the spiritual faculty from which they are supposed to have proceeded," would make Wordsworth "come out better" than ever before.
The essay on Wordsworth is probably Arnold's finest example of "practical" literary criticism or study of an individual author, but in his retrospective account of Wordsworth's contributions to English poetry, Arnold tells us also a great deal about himself. His method of organizing the selected poems according to genre reminds us of his preference for "natural" classical form over Romantic eccentricities: "We may rely upon it that we shall not improve upon the classification adopted by the Greeks for kinds of poetry; that their categories of epic, dramatic, lyric, and so forth, have a natural propriety, and should be adhered to." When Arnold had collected his own poems for the 1869 edition, his categories had been "Narrative," "Elegiac," "Lyric," and "Dramatic." Then, for the 1877 edition, he added "Early Poems" and "Sonnets." He thought that the new order made his poems seem "much more natural and not so mournful."
Regardless of his insistence on classical genres, Arnold's nineteenth-century cosmopolitanism is evident in his attempt to place Wordsworth in the context not of English poetry merely but European poetry as well. Like Goethe, we should "conceive of the whole group of civilised nations as being, for intellectual and spiritual purposes, one great confederation" writes Arnold in a passage reminiscent of his critical essays of the sixties. (Arnold's attempt to transcend the merely national ideal extends to the consideration of French, German, and Italian poetry as well as English but hardly seems to take into account all "civilized nations.") He of course declines to compare Wordsworth with the ancients, who "in many respects . . . are far above us," but he tempers his old classicism with a qualification: "and yet there is something that we demand which they can never give."
Arnold used the project to adjust his stance once again in relation to the best of the Romantic heritage, It seemed to revive his old delight in the natural world: "The effect of reading so much Wordsworth lately has been to make me feel more keenly than usual the beauty of the common incidents of the natural year, and I am sure that is a good thing." Much of Arnold's early poetry originates in "an attempt to revisit the Wordsworthian scene," with "Resignation" as the central text. "Resignation" ends not with an image of Wordsworthian joy but rather with "The something that infects the world." Arnold could not be another Wordsworth, but he recognized the central, enduring power of Wordsworth's influence. When Wordsworth died in 1850, Arnold memorialized him in verse as the poet with "healing power," the one who could "make us feel." Now, in critical prose Arnold reconsiders Wordsworth's best poetry and shares the joy: "Wordsworth's poetry is great because of the extraordinary power with which Wordsworth feels the joy offered to us in nature, the joy offered to us in the simple primary affections and duties . . . and renders it so as to make us share it." But in order to help his predecessor achieve his rightful status as one of the greatest poets of the "last two or three centuries" Arnold must save Wordsworth from the Wordsworthians, who admire him indiscriminately. Arnold boldly separates the most successful poems of Wordsworth's best period, 1798-1808, from the "mass of inferior work" produced during his long career, acknowledges the superiority of the best short lyrics over the "poems of greatest bulk," and insists that Wordsworth should not be praised as a systematic philosopher. When Wordsworth, who excels at communicating felt, poetic truth, tries to write in a philosophic vein, he descends into abstract verbiage.
Arnold must have been thinking of the message-hunting critics who had complained about not finding answers to life's questions or a systematic philosophy in his own poetry. And yet Arnold was far from taking a purely aesthetic approach to Wordsworth. While dismissing didacticism in poetry, Arnold adapts his old definition of poetry as a criticism of life (but now "under the conditions fixed for us by the laws of poetic beauty and poetic truth"), and argues that moral ideas are a main part of human life." Like other great poets, Wordsworth focuses on the question of "how to live," and the term "moral" can be applied to "whatever bears upon the question, how to live." Arnold, too, had struggled with this central question in his own poetry, though he had refused to settle for final answers, and in his prose career he had increasingly concerned himself with the problem of conduct.
At least one other aspect of Arnold's defense of Wordsworth should be mentioned. Arnold never published detailed critical discussions of living poets, but in attempting to reestablish the supremacy of Wordsworth in nineteenth-century English poetry, he sought to reverse the trend which saw his old rival Tennyson draw "to himself, and away from Wordsworth, the poetry-reading public, and new generations." Although Arnold's comments probably had very little effect on Tennyson's reputation, the Wordsworth edition was an outstanding success. Nearly 4000 copies, at 4s. 6d., were sold within five months of the original publication date, and a second edition followed quickly.
In the late 1870s Arnold re-examined and expanded his views on poetry and literature in general, and his review of Wordsworth's contributions to English and European poetry was only one of the occasions which stimulated him to think and write about the most basic assumptions underlying his literary criticism. In October 1878, T. Humphrey Ward, the husband of Arnold's niece Mary. proposed that Arnold work with him on his anthology entitled The English Poets. Arnold was reluctant, citing his usual excuse that "I am a school-inspector with a very limited time at my disposal for letters," but eventually he agreed to write a general introduction, and then also introductory essays on the poets Gray and Keats for Ward. Arnold's general introduction was the chief point of interest in Ward's anthology. Later entitled "The Study of Poetry," it contains some of his best-known pronouncements about poetry and poets. It is preeminently an essay of judgment and evaluation. Arnold begins his widely quoted introduction by mak ing very large claims for poetry:
The future of poetry is immense, because in poetry, where it is worthy of its high destinies, our race, as time goes on, will find an ever surer and surer stay. There is not a creed which is not shaken, not an accredited dogma which is not shown to be questionable, not a received tradition which does not threaten to dissolve. Our religion has materialised itself in the fact . . . and now the fact is failing it. But for poetry the idea is everything; the rest is a world of illusion . . . the idea is the fact. The strongest part of our religion to-day is its unconscious poetry.
This remarkable passage, so obviously a product of Arnold's Bible criticism, immediately imports into his literary studies some of the controversy generated by the religious essays of the early-to-mid seventies. It would draw responses, both positive and negative, from future generations of scholars and literary critics. And yet Arnold did not intend to write for scholars or professional literary men: he wrote for a general, middle-class audience with an interest in poetry but not necessarily a sophisticated understanding of it. In attempting to reach this audience, Arnold employed some of the critical formulations that had become familiar in his work and re-introduced and expanded some of the ideas he had introduced in the 1860s, beginning with the early Homer essays. Poetry is a criticism of life. The reader must see the poetic object as it really is, thus avoiding the fallacies of the merely personal and the merely historical estimate. Even Arnold's notorious "touchstone method" is anticipated by his use o f quotations in the Homer lectures--the best way to know "truly excellent" poetry when we see it is "to have always in one's mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and to apply them as a touchstone to other poetry." In citing specific touchstone passages--Milton is the most recent poet quoted--Arnold eschews abstract system and invites (or challenges) his readers to accept his critical taste and judgment. His assumption is that reasonable people, without absolute standards, can agree on the quality not only of a poet's artistry but of his "criticism of life." To his credit, Arnold's surviving notebooks, filled with short quotations from the classics, suggest that he really practiced the method he advocated.
I hope that Arnold's references to his poetry criticism in Lang's fifth volume of correspondence will stimulate a renewed critical interest in Arnold's complex, evolving views about poetry during this late phase of his career. (I do not have adequate space here to discuss the implications of Arnold's commentary on Byron, Keats, and Gray, which are also significant.)
Among the several recent articles and book chapters that touch on the central (and much contested) issue of "disinterestedness" as it is developed in Arnold's critical works, Amanda Anderson's chapter entitled "Disinterestedness as a Vocation: Revisiting Matthew Arnold" in The Powers of Distance: Cosmopolitanism and the Cultivation of Distance (Princeton Univ. Press, 2001, pp. 91-118) is especially useful because it places Arnold in the context of a larger "Victorian preoccupation with distinctly modern practices of detachment" that Anderson sees in the works of Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Oscar Wilde. Anderson perceptively analyzes Arnold's combination of "the two separate faculties of aesthetic disinterestedness and critical reason" and in doing so builds on the pioneering work of Lionel Trilling and David J. DeLaura, among others. It is noteworthy that Anderson, who has a background in Women's Studies and postmodernist theory, questions the Foucauldian assumptions found in much fem inist and postmodern criticism that detachment is an illusory ideal or that it is always a concealed form of power and control.
Interested readers can supplement the highly theoretical work of Anderson with Valentine Cunningham's practical criticism in the essay "Fact and Tact" (EIC 51: 119-138). Cunningham emphasizes Arnoldian principles of criticism in the work of F. W Bateson--in particular a reliance on "external evidence and critically applicable 'fact"' and a resistance to the application of abstract theory (like that of Foucault?) to literature. Cunningham points to the moral value of an attempt to tell the truth in each fresh reading of a literary work and obviously values Arnold's "free play of the mind" in what Anderson would call an attempt to achieve subjective embodiment of universal or impersonal value. After tracing the most influential readings of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Felix Randall" (including a seriously flawed one by a literary "theorist") down through the years as a kind of test case concerning lessons learned from the "post-Arnoldian disposition of critical thought, this Batesonised corner of distinguished critical thinking," Cunningham concludes that "our inevitably widening knowledge about how texts work and what they do make critical sensitivity, the principledness of tactful handling of texts, all the more necessary than ever."
In his essay Cunningham notes in passing the work of "one of Bateson's starriest Oxford disciples, Christopher Ricks," and Ricks himself makes a contribution to the study of Arnold's critical legacy (albeit one that stresses what is widely taken to be a major weakness in that legacy) in "Matthew Arnold and the Novel" (Salmagundi 132: 76-95). Focusing on Arnold's negative views of the realistic novel as it was developed by Balzac and Flaubert--and his associations of the mass appeal of the novel with French "lubricity"--Ricks argues that "what stands between Arnold and the novel is not in the end the popular lubricity but his deeply misguided conviction that the material in which the novelist works cannot but subdue him."
David A. Ward's "Transformed Religion: Matthew Arnold and the Refining of Dissent" (Renascence 53: 97-117) is also concerned with Arnold's critical prose. Ward's main point is to compare Arnold's "inward" critique of contemporary English Dissenters as "misguided fellow citizens in need of instruction" with Dickens' portrayal of their hideous appearance. Ward believes that Arnold was equally hostile toward the Dissenters but that he recognized the increasing pluralism of British society and saw that "the old ways for controlling those outside the Establishment, including the Dickensian desire to effect a kind of internal exile for them in Britain, were no longer tenable." I think that Ward exaggerates both Arnold's elitism and his hostility toward the Dissenters (he says, for example, that Arnold's "seeming benevolence" for them "actually furthered a malevolent intent"), but his essay is valuable in reminding us of the intimate relation between Arnold's classic of social criticism Culture and Anarchy (1869) an d the religious prose, beginning with St. Paul and Protestantism (1870), that quickly followed it. Ward's most compelling point is that Arnold hoped Culture and Anarchy, with its lack of sharp definitions and its "slippery, unsystematic form," would "lead his many readers away from the overly rigid approach to Scripture characteristic of Dissenters." I cannot resist making the suggestion that Arnold's work perhaps resists the schematic readings of today's cultural theorists in a similar way.
An additional recent contribution to the study of Arnold's religious works is John Caperon's "'Between Two Worlds': The Theology of Matthew Arnold" (Theology 104: 352-357), which incorporates some perceptive comments about Arnold's anticipation of twentieth-century religious thought in his "attempt at finding a mid-way path between religious orthodoxy and rationalistic scepticism" (for Caperon, "something of a theological dead end"), but this essay suffers from underdevelopment and does not cite important works in the field such as James C. Livingston's Matthew Arnold and Christianity: His Religious Prose Writings (1986) and Ruth apRoberts' Arnold and God (1983).
It was with pleasure that I noticed the publication of an important new book on Arnold's poetry--Alan Grob's A Longing Like Despair: Arnold's Poetry of Pessimism (Univ. of Delaware Press, 2002)--as I was completing this "Year's Work" on Arnold, and I plan to feature this book, along with Lang's final volume of Arnold's letters, in next year's essay. However, Grob is very much aware that his is the first major, full-length critical study of Arnold's poetry (as opposed to more general studies of his life, career, and critical ideas) since David G. Riede's Matthew Arnold and the Betrayal of Language in 1988, and though Grob is enthusiastic about the significance of Arnold's poetry (however pessimistic Arnold's philosophy may be), he seems to be, yes, pessimistic about the future of Arnold's critical recognition as one of the three most important Victorian poets, The question of Arnold's supposed waning reputation as a poet today is one that deserves our attention and I will address it next time. For now, however , I will mention a very curious recent book that focuses on one of Arnold's poems: Matthew Arnold's "The Church at Brou": A Closer Look (Exeter: Elm Bank Publications), by G. A. Featherston, is a very detailed annotation of this 1853 poem by Arnold, one that confirms its "inferiority as literature" but offers a symbolic, psychological reading in which Arnold is seen as "a vengeful child, whose verse was psychological self-therapy." I will not elaborate on the details here, but I predict that it is not only those who in the author's words see Arnold as a "patron saint" who will remain unconvinced by this interpretation.
Finally, I want to call attention to two recent works that include significant, if small, sections on Arnold. David Keppel-Jones's The Strict Metrical Tradition: Variations in the Literary Iambic Pentameter from Sidney and Spenser to Matthew Arnold is (as its title implies) a highly technical, historical study of English verse, and it places Arnold among the Victorian poets who "stay firmly within the [strict metrical] tradition." In his "moderate" irregularities and variations, Arnold "follows the generous style of the Romantics." A handbook entitled Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucious to Dewey, edited by Joy A. Palmer (London: Routledge), includes an entry on Arnold which offers a largely positive assessment of his cultural and educational ideals and defends him against his critics today: "Perhaps the real problem with Arnold is that we have a culture in which the sort of ambitions he has for either the masses or the middle classes have been rendered simply inconceivable by the actions of pol iticians, educators and, most damning of all, by the very cultural elite whose position in public life, esteem and subsidy the thought of Arnold did so much to establish."
CLINTON MACHANN is Professor of English at Texas A&M University. Among his recent publications are The Genre of Autobiography in Victorian Literature (1994), The Essential Matthew Arnold: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies (1993), and Matthew Arnold: A Literary Life (1998).…