Charlottesville; London: University Press of Virginia, 1996-2001. First edition. Hardcover. Quarto (9 1/2 x 6 1/2"). LXX, , 549, pp (Vol. 1); 505pp (Vol. 2); 483pp (Vol. 3); XXII, , 465, pp (Vol. 4); XXIII, , 500, pp (Vol. 5). Original photo-illustrated dust-jackets over green cloth, with gold and black lettering to spines. Front free endpaper of first volume inscribed and signed by the author, and dated October 9, 1996.
"The University Press of Virginia edition of The Letters of Matthew Arnold, edited by Cecil Y. Lang, represents the most comprehensive and assiduously annotated collection of Arnold's correspondence available. When complete in six volumes, this edition will include close to four thousand letters, nearly five times the number in G.W.E. Russell's two-volume compilation of 1895. The letters, at once meaty and delightful, appear with a consecutiveness rare in such editions, and they contain a great deal of new information, both personal (sometimes intimate) and professional. Two new diaries are included, a handful of letters to Matthew Arnold, and many of his own that will appear in their entirety here for the first time. Renowned as a poet and critic, Arnold will be celebrated now as a letter writer. Nowhere else is Arnold's appreciation of life and literature so extravagantly evident as in his correspondence. His letters amplify the dark vision of his own verse, as well as the moral background of his criticism. As Cecil Lang writes, the letters "may well be the finest portrait of an age and of a person, representing the main movements of mind and of events of nearly half a century and at the same time revealing the intimate life of the participant-observer, in any collection of letters in the nineteenth century, possibly in existence.
- Volume 1 begins with an account of the Arnold children by their father, headmaster of Rugby School. The letters show Arnold as a precocious schoolboy, doted on and remonstrated by his extended family; as a foppish Oxonian; as a young man enjoying the pleasures of Paris and working at a perfect and undemanding job; then as a new husband in an imperfect, too-demanding job; as Professor of Poetry at Oxford; and finally as an emergent European critic. As Cecil Lang writes in his engaging and spacious introduction, "Arnold learned to live with a boring, demanding, underpaid, unrewarding occupation largely because - questing intellectual, husband and father, school inspector, clubbable man-about-town and cosmopolite-about-Europe and America, hunter, fisherman, skater, voracious reader - he lived to learn."
- Volume 2 of this six volume set covers the years 1860-65, when Arnold emerged as a critic and went on to consolidate his reputation. His letters record his impressions of Europe on an official school study, with observations of nature within and nature without.
- Volume 3 (1866-1870) covers five momentous years in Matthew Arnold's life. Among his great contemporaries none attempted such extraordinarily diverse projects as Arnold set his hand to in these years. The range and the achievement are, on any estimate, simply stunning. This volume opens with Arnold preparing the lectures he would publish in 1867 as On the Study of Celtic Literature. It ends (nearly) with a letter to T. H. Huxley in which he hopes that his great friend will read aright the presentation copy of St. Paul and Protestantism (1870) that is on its way to him. In between these attempts to carry light from the Celts to his countrymen and throw light for his countrymen on the poetics of Scripture, Arnold had a go at reviving his poetic life (New Poems ), wrote a masterpiece of Victorian sagacity (Culture and Anarchy ), and turned his employment as a school inspector into an occasion for composing a model educational report (Schools and Universities on the Continent ). For an encore, he brought out second editions of both New Poems and St. Paul and Protestantism and he did sustained (but, alas, not completed) work on a sort of handbook to Greek poetry. All of this he accomplished while keeping his day job, battling toothache, worrying about money problems, suffering the deaths of two of his children, moving from London to Harrow (partly because of the money problems), writing an array of contributions for various periodicals, and keeping up his affectionate relationships with his family and friends. Only someone highly serious would attempt so heteroglossic a life.
- In Volume 4 (1871-1878) Matthew Arnold's writings range 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". These books have all more or less been forgotten, but in the 1870s they were an integral part of intellectual culture, as was "Friendship's Garland". Equally, the letters here contribute 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 marvellous letters to his sister remaining at Fox How almost as of he had been writing all along not merely to an individual but also to a spiritual anchor, or even to his moral centre. Arnold travels to 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."
- Volume 5 (1879-1884): In this penultimate volume of the Virginia edition of Matthew Arnold's letters, we see Arnold at his best. This period saw publication of "Mixed Essays," "Irish Essays," and "Discourses in America" as well as of several essays gathered later in "Essay in Criticism, Second Series." "The Poems of Wordsworth" and "The Poetry of Byron" appeared, as did the controversial essay "The Study of Poetry," with its notorious and very readable touchstone theory. The emotional and moral center of the volume, however, is the extraordinary series of letters written during Arnold's first American visit, during which he ranged from New York and New England to Madison, Chicago, Richmond, Washington, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec. Like most visiting British luminaries, he meets everyone everywhere, including the president, the Delanos, the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts, and especially Andrew Carnegie. But the visit - a lecture tour undertaken to pay off his son's debts - had other and far more significant repercussions, for Arnold was accompanied by his wife and by his elder daughter, who met the man she was to marry - the direct cause of a second American visit and, in due course, of a flourishing branch of Arnold descendants in the United States." (From the Publishers).
Lacking the final volume (Vol. 6).
Minor shelf wear to first volume. Second and third volume still in publisher's shrink wrap. Volume 4 and 5 in like new condition. Like new. Item #41869