Victorian Critical Theory Criticism: Matthew Arnold - Essay

T. S. Eliot (essay date 1933)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Eliot, T. S. “Matthew Arnold.” In The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism: Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England, pp. 103-19. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1933.

[In the following excerpt, Eliot discusses Arnold's limitations as a critic, which he views as traceable to Arnold's belief that poetry could serve as a substitute for religion.]

MARCH 3RD, 1933

The rise of the democracy to power in America and Europe is not, as has been hoped, to be a safeguard of peace and civilisation. It is the rise of the uncivilised, whom no school education can suffice to provide with intelligence and reason....

(The entire section is 4915 words.)

Lionel Trilling (essay date 1949)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Trilling, Lionel. “The Spirit of Criticism.” In Matthew Arnold, pp. 190-221. New York: Columbia University Press, 1949.

[In the following excerpt, Trilling examines Arnold's widespread influence as a literary critic.]

For to be possessed of a vigorous mind is not enough; the prime requisite is rightly to apply it. The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellences, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always in the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.


(The entire section is 12839 words.)

David Perkins (essay date 1951)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Perkins, David. “Arnold and the Function of Literature.” ELH 18 (1951): 287-309.

[In the following essay, Perkins asserts that Arnold's value as a literary and cultural critic lies in his revitalization of essentially classical notions at a time when modern society was most in need of them.]



It is perhaps a platitude that man's study both of himself and of the world he lives in has become increasingly compartmentalized; and that diverse, specialized studies have each tended to exercise and develop one particular facet of the mind, often at the expense of others. On the other...

(The entire section is 8479 words.)

William K. Wimsatt, Jr. (essay date 1957)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wimsatt, William K., Jr. “The Arnoldian Prophecy.” In Literary Criticism: A Short History, edited by William K. Wimsatt, Jr., and Cleanth Brooks, pp. 432-51. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957.

[In the following excerpt, Wimsatt provides the background for Arnold's emergence as the most important literary critic of his generation.]

Feeling and Image came through the eighteenth century, as we have seen, in close liaison, and they enjoyed at the dawn of the new era a high estate together. Feeling was somewhat indiscriminately treated as either something that welled up in the poet himself or (it made little difference) something that was discernible in the poem...

(The entire section is 8957 words.)