Overcoming Matthew Arnold

Overcoming Matthew Arnold

by James Walter Caufield


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Overcoming Matthew Arnold by James Walter Caufield

Opening the way for a reexamination of Matthew Arnold's unique contributions to ethical criticism, James Walter Caufield emphasizes the central role of philosophical pessimism in Arnold's master tropes of "culture" and "conduct." Caufield uses Arnold's ethics as a lens through which to view key literary and cultural movements of the past 150 years, demonstrating that Arnoldian conduct is grounded in a Victorian ethic of "renouncement," a form of altruism that wholly informs both Arnold's poetry and prose and sets him apart from the many nineteenth-century public moralists. Arnold's thought is situated within a cultural and philosophical context that shows the continuing relevance of "renouncement" to much contemporary ethical reflection, from the political kenosis of Giorgio Agamben and the pensiero debole of Gianni Vattimo, to the ethical criticism of Wayne C. Booth and Martha Nussbaum. In refocusing attention on Arnold's place within the broad history of critical and social thought, Caufield returns the poet and critic to his proper place as a founding father of modern cultural criticism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781409426516
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 02/16/2012
Edition description: 1
Pages: 242
Product dimensions: 6.46(w) x 9.45(h) x 0.75(d)

About the Author

James Walter Caufield is an extension lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA.

Table of Contents

Contents: Dedication; Culture and conduct: politics, pessimism, and the function of Matthew Arnold; The buried life: cultural politics and the renunciation of Arnold; Poetry is the reality: Arnoldian culture tackles the athletes of logic; Culture hates hatred: critical Antihumanism and the fate of Arnold; To the wise, foolish: to the world, weak: the reception of Arnoldian pessimism; Less than joy and more than resignation: Arnold's method of ethical exemplarity; Bibliography; Index.

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