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106 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY MATTHEW ARNOLD* CARLETON STANLEY This is a scholar's book, and avowedly written for scholars. Furthermore, as the title indicates, the author limits himself to a special field, and says in his preface; "It is not the whole of Arnold's personality that I have tried to render. There are perhaps too many books that concern themselves with Arnold as a whole.'' Here we have a scholar's modesty. Within the field he has chosen Professor Brown has been admirably successful. He modestly acknowledges. his indebtedness to Professor T:rilling'.s Matthew Arnold "for its discernment and scholarly iulness in almost everything that relates to Arnold's thought.'' Now, Professor Trilling's book is indeed praiseworthy , but it may be that it contains a danger which Professor Brown quite avoids. Though be does not himself ride the word to death, Trilling several times uses the word "ambivalencel> about Arnold's mind. This is a word which Dr. Jung made fashionable in certain quarters. Trilling knows too much of Arnold, is too appreciative of his work, to push the psychological theory to its limit: if that were done it ought to mean that Arnold accomplished nothing. But the danger is, for sciolists at least, of whom there are always many, that Trilling may be thought to have explained the complexity of Arnold's mind by giving it a label. Professor Brown, on 'the other hand, from first to last makes us feel how batHing that complexity is. Yet the phrase "baffiing complexity" must not be misunderstood. Matthew Arnold's father was an exceedingly complicated character. Sir Michael Sadler wrote brilliantly about this in his introduction to Dr. Arnold of Rtigby by the doctor's great-grandson, Arnold Whitridge , a very learned and judicious -writer. Now, at the end Whitridge says: "There has never been, nor is there ever likely to be, any difference of opinion about [Dr.] Arnold's character. He offers no problem to the psychologist." (The italics are mine.) This, if the words be weighed and taken in their contextj is well said, and Sadler who disagrees with two points in Whitridge does not disagree with these statements. Yet it is to be observed that the immediate occ.asion of the book was Lytton Strachey's "caricature)" which vVhitridgc docs not resent. Further ·it is with the utmost patience that he sets himself to correct, as one-sided, other opinions about his ancestor, and ~dmits that there was a "legend" about him. "It is no easy task to take the measure" of Dr. Arnold, he says> and to get the proper perspective; yet he thinks it can be done. He admits that in some of the many *Matthew Arnold: A Study in Conflict. By E. K. BROWN. Chicago: University of Chicago Press [Toronto: Ryerson]. 1948. Pp. xiv, 224. ($3.50) REVJEWS 107 things he attempted Dr. Arnold failed, but argues, on the evidence he adduces, tbat some of his achievements were "supremely valuable." Not only was Matthew Arnold tbe son of this complex char·acter {who wrote so frequently from Switzerland about the joy and peace of living in the Alps even while he remained over-anxious about things at home, who was something of a John Bull bm was suspect as being too (ond of the french, who had the kindest of hearts but thoroughly bdieve.d in caning boys, '"ho was rolcrant to a d cgrec but capable of furious angry vehemence), not only so, but some of the writers who most influenced the son were characters marked by dcavage. Every writer about Arnold quotes what he said of Sophocles attaining serenity, but Arnold from his youth on was pondering Lucretius, who praises the serenity of his master Epicurus, but him· self mahs us fed so poignantly the wrenching struggle and incurable sadness of life. How deep are the cleavages in Lucretius! Mrs. Sells ha.s written fascinatingly and with knowledge of the attraction of Scnancour (another divided soul) for Arnold, bur most of the passages in Senancour which she quotes, to trace their influence on Arnold, are as Lucrctian a.s can be. Referring to Re1ignaticm as an "epitome" of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 106-109
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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