Books: Reason or Treason

D for Disinterested

MATTHEW ARNOLD—LECTURES & ESSAYS IN CRITICISM (578 pp.)—Vol. Ill in a ten-volume series edited by R. H. Super —University of Michigan ($9).

"Sweetness and light" was not the best of phrases even in Victorian times. Besides, Matthew Arnold had borrowed it from Jonathan Swift. But the eminent Victorian poet-critic's oft-quoted formula for mental harmony has clung to his reputation like a sugary burr. Successive generations of collegians, coming upon it in more modern times, have turned away, convinced that Arnold's comments on the world are about as relevant to the...