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Culture and Anarchy (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – December 11, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0192805119 ISBN-10: 0192805118

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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (December 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192805118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192805119
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.6 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,786,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Major work of criticism by Matthew Arnold, published in 1869. In it Arnold contrasts culture, which he defines as "the study of perfection," with anarchy, the prevalent mood of England's then new democracy, which lacks standards and a sense of direction. Arnold classified English society into the Barbarians (with their lofty spirit, serenity, and distinguished manners and their inaccessibility to ideas), the Philistines (the stronghold of religious nonconformity, with plenty of energy and morality but insufficient "sweetness and light"), and the Populace (still raw and blind). He saw in the Philistines the key to culture; they were the most influential segment of society; their strength was the nation's strength, their crudeness its crudeness; it therefore was necessary to educate and humanize the Philistines. Arnold saw in the idea of "the State," and not in any one class of society, the true organ and repository of the nation's collective "best self." No summary can do justice to Culture and Anarchy, however; it is written with an inward poise, a serene detachment, and an infusion of subtle humor that make it a masterpiece of ridicule as well as a searching analysis of Victorian society. The same is true of its sequel, Friendship's Garland (1871). -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author


Jane Garnett is a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Wadham College, Oxford. She is a founder member of the editorial board of the Journal Victorian Culture.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Matthew Arnold, a British poet and critic, wrote on the importance of culture in this work. He defined culture, famously, as "sweetness and light" - implying that culture represented everything good, everything not barbaric. The work is most important for the way it forwards the notion of an "organic" society - that is, a society that evolves slowly, that grows into maturity, that does not strive for sudden "advances" led by experts working all at once to implement great change. For anyone wondering about the relationship between modern conservatism and classical Liberalism, this is a decent place to start. "I am a Liberal," Arnold writes in the introduction, "yet I am a Liberal tempered by experience, reflection, and renouncement, and I am, above all, a believer in culture." If you wish to take an intellectual journey from Burke to Bork, Arnold must make up one leg of your trip.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
This was probably Arnold's greatest work, and it can still be read with profit today. Mainly a reaction to the social and cultural uncertainties of mid-Victorian England, Arnold attempted to analyze and solve the problem of anarchy and cultural uncertainty as he saw it in this witty and articulate collection of essays. The U.S. is in a similar uncertain state today, but unfortunately we're more likely to see more false pundits pandering nonsense rather than another Matthew Arnold, whose intelligence, wit, and uncommon sense seem to be all too rare today in this country. As the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, "Arnold saw in the idea of "the State," and not in any one class of society, the true organ and repository of the nation's collective "best self." No summary can do justice to this extraordinary book; it can still be read with pure enjoyment, for it is written with an inward poise, a serene detachment, and an infusion of mental laughter, which make it a masterpiece of ridicule as well as a searching analysis of Victorian society. The same is true of its unduly neglected sequel, Friendship's Garland (1871)."
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
So much of modern criticism has go so far afield, that the appellation has almost lost any sense to it. To recapture what criticism meant before the novel, but useless ideas of structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, post-modernism, et alia, Matthew Arnold is about as good a place to begin. His "Function of Criticism" and "Anarchy and Crticism" have become classics, even if they've been hidden from sight by academicians' self-serving agendas to bring nothing to light. This isn't a "conservative" vs. "liberal" thing, but an "intelligible and meaningful" vs. "labyrinthine and cockamamie" thing. Arnold is like encountering hermeneutics by having first visited Thomas Aquinas, or having studied democracy by having first studied Hobbes. Arnold is a seminal thinker, crtic, and student of the arts and society. He belongs in criticism's lexicon well before de Saussure, Derrida, Lacan, at alia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By An Avid Reader on December 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Arnold is a great mind and should be read by anyone who wants a greater understanding of our own humanity. Just excellent.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Melvin Greenblatt on December 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Arnold was living during the Victorian Age in England. It was a tumultuous time politically and economically. He represents the "Whig" or more conservative segment of society. The book is of interest mainly for scholars of English history. He is a very difficult writer. Long sentences with many complex clauses, opaque references to contemporary figures and digressions. . .
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Charles M. Robinson on January 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating look at the historical meaning of Culture. I highly recommend it to any thinking person who wants to understand today's world and how we got where we are.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By matt espy on October 5, 2014
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