The Letters of Matthew Arnold 1871-1878
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Univ of Virginia Pr
- Publish date: 04/01/2000
- ISBN: 9780813918969
- ISBN10: 0813918960
In volume 4 of these letters, Matthew Arnold regroups. In his writings, he ranges from religion to literature; St. Paul and Protestantism in 1870 is followed by Literature and Dogma, God and the Bible, and Last Essays on Church and Religion, all with their redemptive and customary wit and wisdom. These books have all more or less been forgotten now, but in the 1870s they were an integral part of intellectual culture, as was Friendship's Garland. Mixed Essays, revealing what Arnold calls a "unity of tendency", is an important and suggestive pivot combining literature and society, and it leads easily to his highly influential, enduring, and endearing Poems of Wordsworth.
Equally, the letters here continue to chronicle Arnold's personal life in the characteristically intimate note of all his correspondence. Arnold loses a son, a brother, and his mother (as well as his mother-in-law), and he moves seamlessly from the marvelous letters to his mother to the marvelous letters to his sister remaining at Fox How almost as if he had been writing all along not merely to an individual person but also to a spiritual anchor, or even to his moral center.
Arnold travels in France, Switzerland, and Italy, recording as always his incomparable impressions. He settles, finally, in Surrey, and poignantly says farewell to his youth in "George Sand", a moving and beautiful essay, just as he seems in his last home,Pains Hill Cottage, to be saying good-bye to Fox How.