Culture and Anarchy

Culture and Anarchy

Matthew Arnold Samuel Lipman / Feb 27, 2020

Culture and Anarchy Culture and Anarchy is one of the central texts of the western intellectual tradition and has helped to shape thinking about the tasks and requirements of culture and civil society The book is particu

  • Title: Culture and Anarchy
  • Author: Matthew Arnold Samuel Lipman
  • ISBN: 9780300058673
  • Page: 417
  • Format: Paperback
  • Culture and Anarchy is one of the central texts of the western intellectual tradition and has helped to shape thinking about the tasks and requirements of culture and civil society The book is particularly relevant now, however, because it articulates many issues about culture and cultural politics that are being intensely debated today In the past decade, Culture and AnCulture and Anarchy is one of the central texts of the western intellectual tradition and has helped to shape thinking about the tasks and requirements of culture and civil society The book is particularly relevant now, however, because it articulates many issues about culture and cultural politics that are being intensely debated today In the past decade, Culture and Anarchy has been the subject of discussion by both the cultural right and the cultural left, beloved by the one because it asserts the primacy of reason over the anarchy of doing as one likes, and despised by the other because it champions what many liberals consider an elitist model of culture This new edition of Culture and Anarchy addresses this debate by including specially commissioned essays by Maurice Cowling, Gerald Graff, Samuel Lipman, and Steven Marcus that analyze Arnold s ideas from divergent political and literary perspectives and link them to contemporary concerns over the health of western culture in an increasingly multicultural society The edition reprints for the first time in unaltered form the original 1869 text of Culture and Anarchy, providing valuable insight into Arnold s authorial intent it is supplemented by a useful glossary of names, terms, and events and an introduction by Lipman that places Arnold in his time and discusses his initial reception and continuing importance today.

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    About "Matthew Arnold Samuel Lipman"

      • Matthew Arnold Samuel Lipman

        Matthew Arnold was an English poet, sage writer and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator.


    1. AbbreviationsIntroductionNote on the TextSelect BibliographyA Chronology of Matthew Arnold--Culture and AnarchyAppendix: Henry Sidgwick, 'The Prophet of Culture'Explanatory Notes

    2. But what is greatness?— culture makes us ask. Greatness is a spiritual condition worthy to excite love, interest, and admiration; and the outward proof of possessing greatness is that we excite love, interest, and admiration.Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy was an odd book to come back to in these times of talk about making things "great" again. I had first read the book way back when I was at university. Back then, I read the book with the purpose of finding arguments for and against diff [...]

    3. Reason -- "Sweetness and Light" -- Culture -- Perfection -- for Arnold these terms are nearly synonymous, and all underlie the same central claim: the cause of disorder is both identifiable and curable. Arnold's goal here is not to propose a specific program of reform but, as he says in Democracy, to "invite impartial reflections." While Arnold does not precisely live up to his own asserted impartiality, his essay does seem constructed to persuade rather than to argue. This results from a combin [...]

    4. I don't know where to even begin with this book. It is glorious and meaningful, useful, worthy and important - and it is also horrifying in its use of elitist rhetoric (we're here to perfect ourselves, didn't you know? and that's possible through cultural education! Perfection!), its colonial project (where an "epoch of expansion" is related not just to consciousness, but gets tacked on to a middle class progress narrative), not to mention the false parallels it draws between Jewish and Greek cu [...]

    5. Arnold's idea of culture could not be less in vogue these days. As it is always salutary to read the out-of-vogue, I strongly recommend this book to everyone. Today, culture is used to mean what used to be called society or even traditional society. This entire book is Arnold's bid for culture to mean the collection of all that is best and perfect in the world and the agreed-upon commitment to develop that perfection even further, an idea that today we can only weakly express with the word civil [...]

    6. When it comes to pure malicious wit, nobody beats Matthew Arnold, not even Jonathan Swift. The six short essays in Culture and Anarchy would have long passed out of print if they were not such fun. The first three essays take aim at all segments of society: the working, middle and aristocratic classes; leftwing, centrist and rightwing politicians; England, Europe and America; Nonconformists and conformists. Evidently, even today, some people are sulky about Arnold’s poison-dipped sword, but he [...]

    7. I don't know how to rate this. There is good writing and very intelligent ideas (regarding culture), but they are overshadowed by the alarming conservatism of it all (the middle class with their tea rooms, disgusting!) and silly concepts (light, sweetness?). Also, too much love for the Establishment and Academies. It just amazes me that someone who is apparently so intelligent can say things like everybody is either Barbarians, Philistines or Populace except for men of culture, who are above cla [...]

    8. Indeed, yes. Though this is somewhat different from what you think it is going to be, based on your limited knowledge for what Arnold is arguing, and thus one could find it somewhat disappointing, but it should not be disappointing. What was somewhat surprising was Arnold's great phrase "the best of what's been thought and said" appears so soon in the book, in the preface, and then is never mentioned again. Arnold more often mentions the importance of letting one's reason play freely over issues [...]

    9. I had heard others speak of this book as if it were a cult classic. Any wonder. There are so many things going on in this work. I am still trying to see where Matthew Arnold fits in with the likes of Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, and Herbert Spencer. He was a professor of poetry by profession, and his niece, Mrs Humphrey Ward, became a metonym for a conservative wowser. So he was hardly a John Stuart Mill, yet he was also rather short of being a Herbert Spencer. [...]

    10. I'm extremely glad that my youngest recommended this series of essays to me. For those of us who believe in thought instead of blind obedience to a ruling elite this is a must read. Arnolds "Culture and Anarchy" has as many lessons for the reader of 2017 as it had for the reader in 1860's. Arnold cuts society into three classes. Barbarians, the ruling elite, Philistines, the middle class trying to ape the elite, and the masses. Arnold further divides these classes into Hebraists and Hellenistic. [...]

    11. The phrase "of its time" springs to mind. He does go into quite a bit of detail about the laws regarding marrying a dead wife's sister. A little too much detail.I found it interesting that, in the preface, Arnold suggests that America is so smart because it has shaken off the shackles of religion.

    12. I believe even for the time in which this book was written the author's prose was dated but what would expect from a man who promotes "being" and loathes "becoming."Did Mr. Arnold come up with the phrase "do as you are told", if he didn't he was a definite disciple.

    13. Interesting, but not complete. His social criticism of the late 1800s remains relevant today. The anarchical, destructive tendencies of socialism; the closed minded, overly "mechanistic", and materialistic tendencies of liberalism; and the corrupt and dying Toryism of his day. His defense of elevated culture is great, how it needs both "Hellenism" (philosophy) and "Hebraism" (morality/religion), to urge people towards better lives. His view of religion, however, is that it exists as an expressio [...]

    14. "Culture and Anarchy" is a book written in 1875. Yet, it's a very relevant book today. If you look past the vocabulary, you'd have no idea, based on the content, that it's not written in 2014. The main crust is a defense of "culture", that is philosophy and other intellectual pursuits. It opposes the anti-intellectual attitudes that are rampant even today, and in our poisonous environment of postmodernism and postcolonialism and cultural relativism reading this book is very interesting. I also f [...]

    15. This essay collection sat on my shelf for a good couple years and might never had seen the light of day if I hadn't been surprised by its being mentioned in Ulysses. I think I only ordered it to round out the rest of my remaining balance on an giftcard. Although the essays push their points from a specific national view, the main thrust is something always of value and that is the endeavoring spirit of curiousity. Arnold seeks a return to the inventive Hellenic disposition for he senses a progr [...]

    16. Many of the specific categories and oppositions he sets up don't seem to hold water, but I wholeheartedly endorse the general thrust of the argument. Of every human product it can be asked: "does this build up civilization, or tear it down?"To give you a sense of his thought processes: "So all our fellow-men, in the East of London and elsewhere, we must take along with us in the progress towards perfection, if we ourselves really, as we profess, want to be perfect; and we must not let the worshi [...]

    17. Matthew Arnold's collected essays, previously published periodically as magazine articles.The time is Victorian England and Arnold contrasts culture; an avenue to breaking down humanity's barriers and a means of creating human perfection, with anarchy; a mood of unrest resulting from certain elements of the modern life.Therefore since through the decades perfection has not been achieved through culture, anarchic tendencies have developed"without order there can be no society and without society [...]

    18. This is 19th Century wit at its absolute best, and a wonderful work of cultural and political criticism (if not one that might find much more favor now than at the time it was written). Arnold's conclusions are frequently not those that I would advocate, and his analysis is not that of a thoroughly principled philosopher (as he freely admits), but there's a great deal of brilliance here, and one would be foolish to discount the entire work simply because it might not always agree with one's own [...]

    19. Reading again, after many years in the wilderness of cultural studies bitterness, that home for frustrated and hateful spoilt brats all over the rich world. Undergraduates are taught to sneer at this book (of course, on the basis of a two or three page extract), in the beginning of their indoctrination into despising of the literary. There is, it is true, much to object to, but the light irony of its writing is delight and powerful of itslf: the issues it deals with frighteningly familiar themes [...]

    20. to be honest, I'm not clear why this is supposed to be such a seminal high Victorian text. It seems to be largely taken up with prolonged discussions of obscure religious and political debates that no one gives a hoot about nowadays. But maybe the broader principles it establishes, the opposition of culture and anarchy, the establishment of the classes of Philistines, Barbarians and Populace etc are now so much part of the foundation of our culture that I can't see how seminal a text this is? An [...]

    21. Arnold's series of essays is surprising not of date after a century and a half of cultural ageing. In spite of his Elitist, Eurocentric view of Mankind, Arnold's Culture and Anarchy raises a lot of questions on the boundaries of liberty and the futility of class struggle. He doesn't provide a clear solution to the cultural problem and he is not always accurate or correct when it comes to historical and anthropological terms, however his argument opens a lot of new passages in the labyrinths of t [...]

    22. "The sterner self of the Populace likes bawling, hustling, and smashing; the lighter self, beer" (72). Arnold writes against the English tendency to value freedom of action over considered thought about what is right and desirable for society, anarchy vs. culture (sweetness and light). Breaks English into classes: Aristocrat-Barbarians, Middle class-Philistines, Working class-Populace.

    23. I'm torn here. On one hand, I think the basic idea of culture as the process of self-perfection is grand, and I think Arnold's idea and direction are admirable; on the other, however, it seems that his formulation falls short of outlining its practicality as a total worldview. Furthermore, he comes to a couple rather unpalatable sub-conclusions.

    24. Very useful, especially to put into conversation with Arnold's theory of aesthetics - the latter portion is a little less compelling and pertinent, particularly if you're reading this for your PhD orals or something of that nature. "Sweetness and Light," "Doing As One Likes," and the "Conclusion" are, in my estimation, the most important sections of the text.

    25. Unreadable intellectual onanism. "Sweetness and Light" is the kind of meaningless phrase you hope is just a poor translation from a foreign language where the phrase had actual meaning. Unfortunately, English is Arnold's native language. But this particular work is utter gibberish.

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