Matthew Arnold Criticism Of English Poetry

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Mathew Arnold as a Critic of English Literature –
With Special Reference to Functions of Poetry

Dr. George Kolanchery
Asst. Professor (English),Bayan College, Oman
(Aff. Purdue University, USA)


Mathew Arnold is an important critic of English Literature. Before him, English criticism was in fog, and whatever criticism we find, is more based on personal notions than on any consistent methods. Dryden is regarded as the first critic of English, but his criticism is based on personal notion- sympathy and knowledge rather than on any formula. It is the reason that even in his age, the authority of Aristotle remained unquestioned. The romantic critics besides their rich criticism were more lost in their theory of imagination and
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The cloud of glory playing round a poet is a dangerous thing and it “blinds criticism by conventional admiration and renders the investigation of literary origin unacceptable”. And our personal affinities, likings and circumstances have great power to sway our estimate of his or that poet’s work.” The dangers can be shunned, Arnold thinks by learning to feel and enjoy the best work of the real classic ad thus the difference between it and all lesser work can be appreciated. But if it is not enough, he adds that the high qualities lie both in the matter and style, and these have “a mark, an accent, of high beauty worth and power,” the substance and manner will possess in an eminent…show more content…
They are simply flat with redundant phrases. Here Milton is morally exalted. It is due to the fact that Arnold is more concerned with his duty to the society- how to live – rather than with his duty to literature – how to appreciate. R. A. Scott James remarks, “Arnold’s powers of appreciation might be twisted by his preconceived schemes of moral excellence.” This line in Arnold’s artistic make-up from time to time conflicts with a purely disinterested judgments. We see the same bias in his dislike of “Scotch drink, scotch religion and Scotch manners” and in his harsh treatment of Keats in regard to Fanny Browne. Mr. Eliot remarks that “his creative and his critical writings are essentially the work of the same man. The same weakness, the same necessity for something, to depend upon, which make him an academic poet make him an academic critic.” And his dependence upon moral values have twisted his judgment. Without moral no poetry is great for him. He was apt to think of the greatness of poetry, as Eliot says, rather than of
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