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The Letters of Matthew Arnold: 1871-1878 (Victorian Literature and Culture Series) (v. 4)

Arnold, Matthew

Published by University of Virginia Press
ISBN 10: 0813918960 / ISBN 13: 9780813918969
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Title: The Letters of Matthew Arnold: 1871-1878 (...

Publisher: University of Virginia Press

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Very Good


Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book has appearance of light use with no easily noticeable wear. Bookseller Inventory # G0813918960I4N10

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The University Press of Virginia edition of The Letters of Matthew Arnold, edited by Cecil Y. Lang, represents the most comprehensive and assiduously annotated collection of Arnold's correspondence available. When complete in six volumes, this edition will include close to four thousand letters, nearly five times the number in G.W.E. Russell's two-volume compilation of 1895. The letters, at once meaty and delightful, appear with a consecutiveness rare in such editions, and they contain a great deal of new information, both personal (sometimes intimate) and professional. Two new diaries are included, a handful of letters to Matthew Arnold, and many of his own that will appear in their entirety here for the first time. Renowned as a poet and critic, Arnold will be celebrated now as a letter writer. Nowhere else is Arnold's appreciation of life and literature so extravagantly evident as in his correspondence. His letters amplify the dark vision of his own verse, as well as the moral background of his criticism. As Cecil Lang writes, the letters "may well be the finest portrait of an age and of a person, representing the main movements of mind and of events of nearly half a century and at the same time revealing the intimate life of the participant-observer, in any collection of letters in the nineteenth century, possibly in existence."

In volume 4, Matthew Arnold regroups. In his writings, he ranges from religion to literature; St. Paul and Protestantism in 1870 is followed by Literature and Dogma, God and the Bible, and Last Essays on Church and Religion, all with their redemptive and customary wit and wisdom. These books have all more or less been forgotten now, but in the 1870s they were an integral part of intellectual culture, as was Friendship's Garland. Mixed Essays, revealing what Arnold calls a "unity of tendency," is an important and suggestive pivot combining literature and society, and it leads easily to his highly influential, enduring, and endearing Poems of Wordsworth.

Equally, the letters here continue to chronicle Arnold's personal life in the characteristically intimate note of all his correspondence. Arnold loses a son, a brother, and his mother (as well as his mother-in-law), and he moves seamlessly from the marvelous letters to his mother to the marvelous letters to his sister remaining at Fox How almost as if he had been writing all along not merely to an individual person but also to a spiritual anchor, or even to his moral center.

Arnold travels in France, Switzerland, and Italy, recording as always his incomparable impressions. He settles, finally, in Surrey, and poignantly says farewell to his youth in "George Sand," a moving and beautiful essay, just as he seems in his last home, Pains Hill Cottage, to be saying good-bye to Fox How.

About the Author:

Cecil Y. Lang was Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Virginia. He was the editor of The Swinburne Letters, New Writings of Swinburne, and The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Circle, and coeditor of The Tennyson Letters.

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