Culture and Anarchy (Paperback)
Culture is] "the best which has been thought and said."
-Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy
Culture and Anarchy (1869) by Matthew Arnold describes one of two major theories of culture that emerged in nineteenth-century England. It is based on the author's Oxford lectures which articulated a theory of culture that continues to influence thinking about the value of teaching the humanities.
Arnold's book reflected the public mood of his time and encouraged his readers to engage in self-analysis and self-criticism. Defining culture in idealist terms (as something to strive for) Arnold popularized his concerns about the state of English society by using his natural wit and dividing the English into three classes-the Barbarians, the Philistines, and the Populace. Fundamentally, however, his concern was with basic questions about what culture really is, what good it can do, and whether it is really necessary.