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MATTHEW ARNOLD AS A CRITIC
- MATTHEW ARNOLD AS A CRITIC
- Kim, In Ja
- Issue Date
- 대학원 영어영문학과
- Graduate School of Ewha Womans University
- Arnold's career is very interesting from the view point of literature, he begins as a lyric poet and his is excellent as a literary critic and social religious critic. Especially it is a remarkable fact that he serves as a school inspector and professor of Poetry in Oxford, which helps us to understand him well, In short, he is a man of various types of career. Moreover, the complicated society as well as the trends of changing world after the Industrial Revolution influences him to form his biorgaphical complexity.
But we can see his fundamental attitude and spirit on Humanity and literature in his critical idea. Arnold says, criticism is "the endeavour, to see the object as in itself as really is", and this "endeavour" is the ideal of Athens as I already described. I mentioned in the previous chapter that it does not only show Hellenism which is accepted from European spirit after Renaissance, but also forms the main current of modern spirit. Arnold makes clear the business of critic in "Heine",
to ascertain the mater-current in the literature of an epoch and to distinguish this from all miner currents, is one of critics highest function.
and he is equal to the task of a critic far himself; his efforts to make the English intellecence isolated form the traditional spirit of Euprope come back to the main current and the fact that he admires Dyron or Heine for their being the embodier of his business of critic show that the achieves such a duty as that of a critic.
Arnold thinks that the important element of modern spirit is in studying classic of Greece and Rome and he calls those scholars, humanist, who are pioneers of Renaissance movement by succeeding to their spirit. They long for Greek culture and regards Greek who is perfectly developed in various respects as a model of what man ought to be. Those spirits liberates human knowledge from systematic structure of Feucralism, it supplies the attitude of study and fresh knowledge and it makes the motive of bringing the stream of humanism to Arnold's time.
Arnold regards modified Greek spirit as a main spiritual tradition of Europe all through the Renaissance, French Revolution, and Arnold's time.
And he thingks that's humanism, besides, he convinces that the function of self-reserve develop "the best that is known and thought in the world". To this he says in On Modern Element in Literature;
The human race has the strongest the most invincible tendency to live, to develop itself. It retains, it clings to what festers its life, what favours the development, to the literature which exhibits it in its vigors...
Here, we can see the strict conviction to humanity which is hidden in Arnold's critical view, also his conviction to humanity in Culture and Anarchy;
Culture, bent on seeing as they are, and on drawing the human race onwards to a more complete, a harmonious perfection.
He, as a critic, indicates the way to solve the problem of the humanism at the time when it is in the crisis of Culture or Anarchy.
In "The function of Criticism at the Present Time" we can see that function describes the promotion of a lively circulation of the best idea that is available to humanity.
In this respects, it is true that humanism is the undercurrent of Arnold's thought. He says in the Preface to Mixed Essays "civilization is the humanization of man in society". It is no wonder that man's humanization and civilization should be formed from the supply of culture be asserts.
The machines which have to be used for the sake of human happiness and interest, gradually shows tendency to control over human being. Freedom and Democracy, after French Revolution, regards as an ideal of human society was being changed by the ignorant vulgar into a factor which promotes the confusion and chaos. In this time, in spite of the Arnol's clever critisizing the reality, he is nothing but a humanist advocating the mission of culture and expecting fuller development of humanity.
In estimating Arnold's special importance as a critic today, debate about that the supersession of this or that opinion is unhelpful. It would have been difficult for an Englishman of Arnold's time to participate more fully in his "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time" and "Literary Influence of Academics", but if a further statement and summary of Arnold's position as developed by the end of his career be permitted a tone of moderate dissatisfaction, and another twentieth century critic has spoken of Arnold essays an "higher pampletcering", and yet another calls him "rather a propagandist for criticism than a critic", very simply and very characteristic, Arnold spent his career in hammering the thesis that poetry is a "criticism of life".
The general view to Arnold is that he has more enduring and common feature than any other comtemporary, because he is a successor of tradition of humanism, and transmitter. Disinterestedness in his criticism, he asserts, sowed unexpectedly the seed of Aesthetic Movement, and his attitude toward human life, respect of intelligence and traditional conseiousness exert much influence on Eliot.
Nowadays, no one pays any attention to his theory in study of Coltic literature and religious spirit. But, as Trilling says, we shall never fail to remember him who tries to discuss the works of literature on human life;
Wherever English speaking people discuss literature in its relation to the fate of man and nations, the name of Matthew Arnold appears, not always for agreement but always for reference.
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