Mark N Gibson

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Much more interesting than I thought it would be

4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-01-2018

I didn’t expect much from the book, thinking it was just something I should know by more than reputation. My impression had been that Arnold was a stuffy old Victorian with idealistic notions about the elevating role of ‘culture’. I think that impression has probably formed in relation to *uses* to which Arnold was put in the twentieth century. In fact, his concerns are surprisingly contemporary. How to respond to a political situation in which positions have become strongly polarised and in which parties are so convinced of their ‘rightness’ that they have lost the capacity for critical self-reflection? ‘Culture’ is really the name that Arnold gives to a practice of self-reflection that dissolves dogma and encourages ideas of a broader ‘common good’. It is of course also of its time, but that central argument might well be worth revisiting.