Victorian poet and critic Matthew Arnold wrote the essays that constitute Culture and Anarchy between 1867 and 1869, a time of rapid social change and uncertainty. Defining culture as "the best that has been thought and said," Arnold offers concrete suggestions for its role as a corrective to the chaos of materialism, industrialism, and self-interest.
Acclaimed by Commentary as "the classic defense of high culture against the depredations of modernity," these essays continue to spark debate on both sides of the cultural aisle. Leftists assail Arnold's views as elitist, while rightists applaud his appeal to order and the strong regulatory arm of the state. Written in the author's distinctively lucid prose, this landmark of Western intellectual philosophy continues to inform ongoing debates about the relationship between politics and culture.
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