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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: February 2013

28 - Theories of poetry

from VI - Genre criticism


Matthew Arnold was probably the most influential British critic of the Victorian period. His central ideas and reputation were somewhat controversial in his own time, especially with regard to his biblical or religious criticism. The fact that Arnold had published Culture and Anarchy earlier in 1869 helps to establish the outline of his career as an active writer. While writing his Taunton Commission report he was also creating the character of Arminius, the fictional German visitor he used to satirize British society in Friendship's Garland. One early and important instance of the influence of Arnold's cultural criticism was in the Renaissance essays of Walter Pater. Arnold's critique of the English Dissenters begins with, My Countrymen in 1866, and he refers to St Paul repeatedly in the essays of Culture and Anarchy. Arnold's introduction to Macmillan's 1879 edition of Wordsworth's poetry became one of his most important contributions to literary criticism.

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