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The Literary Criticism of Matthew Arnold Letters to Clough, the 1853 Preface and S...



The Literary Criticism of Matthew Arnold Letters to Clough, the 1853 Preface and Some Essays
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"The Literary Criticism of Matthew Arnold Letters to Clough, the 1853 Preface and S..."

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Descirption: Many of the ideas that appear in Arnold's Preface of 1853 to his collection of poems and in his later essays are suggested in the letters that Arnold wrote to his friend Arthur Hugh Clough. Analysis of the Preface reveals a poet who found a theoretical basis for poetry (by which he means literature in general) in the dramas of the Greek tragedians, particularly Sophocles: action is stressed as an indispensable ingredient, wholes are preferred to parts, the didactic function of literature is promoted - in short, the Preface reads like the recipe for a classical tragedy. It is a young poet's attempt to establish criteria for what poetry ought to be. He found the Romantic idiom outworn. Literature was, in Arnold's perception, meant to communicate a message rather than impress by its structure or by formal sophistication. Modern theories of coalescence between content and form were outside the contemporary paradigm.T. S. Eliot's ambivalent attitude to Arnold - now reluctantly admiring, now decidedly patronizing - is puzzling. Eliot never seemed able to liberate himself from the influence of Arnold. What in Arnold's critical oeuvre attracted and at the same time repelled Eliot? That question has led an in-depth analysis of Arnold as a literary critic. This book begins with an examination of Arnold's letters to Clough, where "it all started" and proceeds with a close reading of the 1853 Preface. A look at some of the later literary essays rounds off the picture of Arnold as a literary critic. This work is the result of Reader and Review comments of the author's well received Eliot's Objective Criticism: Tradition or Individual Talent?


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Tags: Literary, Criticism, Matthew, Arnold, Letters, Clough, Preface

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