Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman, Arnold, and Pater

Excerpt

This book comprises three studies investigating in detail the intellectual and personal relations existing among three dominating figures in nineteenth-century English thought and culture. These studies are fundamentally concerned with the humanistic vision of Matthew Arnold and Walter Pater and emphasize their adaptation of the traditional religious culture to the needs of the later nineteenth century. John Henry Newman enters as a figure of central importance, a far greater importance than he has hitherto been accorded, because of his commanding position in the thought of both younger men and because the contrasts and continuities in Arnold and Pater often become clearest in relation to him. I am concerned with nothing less than the total "vision" of Arnold and Pater though I have not by any means entered into every aspect of their thought. I have attempted to give a sense of motive and progression to both careers by concentrating on the ways in which the religious problems of the Victorian period centrally affected their evolving humanistic syntheses.

Graham Hough has traced the heritage of English aestheticism and "Decadence" through its best-known figures -- Ruskin, Rossetti, Pater, Morris, the Rhymers, and Yeats. He stresses the increasing dominance of the "aesthetic" norm in English art, religion, and life and underlines some of the ways in which English religious attitudes were transformed in the process. But Pater seems distinctly out of place in this scheme; Hough does not establish the long-supposed link between Ruskin and Pater, and he does not adequately account for the place of religious concerns in Pater's distinctive synthesis. I have attempted to work out the "other" line leading from traditional norms to the nineties. This line has not gone entirely unnoticed, especially by the late . . .

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