Matthew Arnold  

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"[Culture is] the best which has been thought and said in the world." --Culture and Anarchy (1869) by Matthew Arnold

"What man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the French is a worshipper of the great goddess Lubricity?"--Discourses in America (1885) by Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold (1822 – 1888) was an English cultural critic, who worked as an inspector of schools. He is best remembered for his defense of high culture, Culture and Anarchy (1869).

Literary career

In 1852, Arnold published his second volume of poems, Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems. In 1853, he published Poems: A New Edition, a selection from the two earlier volumes famously excluding "Empedocles on Etna", but adding new poems, "Sohrab and Rustum" and "The Scholar-Gipsy". In 1854, Poems: Second Series appeared; also a selection, it included the new poem, "Balder Dead".

Arnold was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857. He was the first to deliver his lectures in English rather than Latin. He was re-elected in 1862. On Translating Homer (1861) and the initial thoughts that Arnold would transform into Culture and Anarchy were among the fruits of the Oxford lectures. In 1859, he conducted the first of three trips to the continent at the behest of parliament to study European educational practices. He self-published The Popular Education of France (1861), the introduction to which was later published under the title "Democracy" (1879).

In 1865, Arnold published Essays in Criticism: First Series. Essays in Criticism: Second Series would not appear until November 1888, shortly after his untimely death. In 1866, he published Thyrsis, his elegy to Clough who had died in 1861. Culture and Anarchy, Arnold's major work in social criticism (and one of the few pieces of his prose work currently in print) was published in 1869. Literature and Dogma, Arnold's major work in religious criticism appeared in 1873. In 1883 and 1884, Arnold toured the United States delivering lectures on education, democracy and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In 1886, he retired from school inspection and made another trip to America. Arnold died suddenly in 1888 of heart failure, when running to meet a tram that would have taken him to the Liverpool Landing Stage to see his daughter, who was visiting from the United States where she had moved after marrying an American.

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