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24 December 1822
15 April 1888
Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools
Poetry; literary, social and religious criticism
24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888
Matthew Arnold was an English Victorian poet and literary and social critic, noted especially for his classical attacks on the contemporary tastes and manners of the “Barbarians” (the aristocracy), the “Philistines” (the commercial middle class), and the “Populace.”
Matthew Arnold was the son of Thomas Arnold, the celebrated headmaster of Rugby School. Matthew entered Rugby (1837) and then attended Oxford as a scholar of Balliol College; there he won the Newdigate Prize with his poem Cromwell (1843). In 1847 Arnold became private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, who occupied a high cabinet post during Lord John Russell’s Liberal ministries. And in 1851 he accepted from Lansdowne an appointment as inspector of schools.
"Dover Beach", "The Scholar-Gipsy", "Thyrsis", Culture and Anarchy, Literature and Dogma , "The Study of Poetry"
His 1867 poem "Dover Beach" depicted a nightmarish world from which the old religious verities have receded. It is sometimes held up as an early, if not the first, example of the modern sensibility. "Dover Beach" is included in Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, and is featured prominently in the novel Saturday by Ian McEwan.
Arnold's poetry explored isolation and conflict with a dark and difficult world through themes like faith, loneliness and isolation, classical characters and ideas, and the flaws of modern life (like its materialism). Arnold also wrote freely upon theological and political themes, but these were largely topics of the day, and his works on such subjects have no great permanent value.
Arnold died suddenly, of heart failure, in the spring of 1888, at Liverpool and was buried at Laleham. Matthew Arnold has been characterised as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues. He became the apostle of “culture” in such works as Culture and Anarchy (1869).
“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.”
“We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I do not know.”
“The free thinking of one age is the common sense of the next.”
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