A Gift Imprisoned: Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold by Ian Hamilton
Matthew Arnold had two lives. In his later years, he was Victorian England's best-known social prophet, educational reformer and literary critic. In his youth, he was an impassioned lyric poet, deeply at odds with his "damned times". From the very start, however, Arnold viewed his poetry-writing self as irresponsible and deliquent. As the eldest son of Dr Arnold of Rugby, the great shaper of Victorian morality, his destiny - he knew - was inescapable. For about 20 years, however, he made efforts to resist this destiny and this book is the story of that losing battle. As a biographical narrative, it confronts a number of puzzles. Chief among these is the much-pondered Marguerite. Who was she: a dream-girl, an invention born of too much exposure to the novels of George Sand, or a real person Arnold met in Switzerland in 1848?