Matthew Arnold and the Decline of English Romanticism

Matthew Arnold and the Decline of English Romanticism

Matthew Arnold and the Decline of English Romanticism

Matthew Arnold and the Decline of English Romanticism

Excerpt

His book consists of lectures which were delivered on the Gregynog Foundation at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in April 1959. I take this opportunity of expressing to the Principal and Senate of the College my gratitude for their kind invitation to me to occupy a lectureship in which I had so many distinguished predecessors; and I express also my thanks for the hospitality and kindness which I received at the College during my stay there.

I trust I may add a word concerning the scope and purpose of the pages which follow: it is rarely easy to find a title which can fairly claim to be an accurate guide to what follows it. After trying, in the first lecture, to give as clear an impression as I could of the temperament of Arnold, I set myself in the last two lectures to illustrate the decline of Romanticism in England by reviewing Arnold's critical writings in the light of an exposition, in the second lecture, of what I take to be the perennial essence, purified from temporary accretions, of Romanticism. It would have been agreeable to me to take Arnold's poetry into the scope of my lectures; but although something is said of the poetry, a critical study of it does not find a place here. What I wished chiefly to do I judged that I was able to do by reviewing Arnold's criticism and critical doctrines. It will be seen that I think that Arnold's critical writings fall into barely concealed incoherence; but I was less anxious to criticize a great Victorian (from the safety of a hundred years gone by) than to exhibit as clearly . . .

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