Arnold”s Touchstone Method

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26 December 2021

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Arnold’s touchstone technique is a comparative technique of criticism. According to this method, to be able to choose a poet’s work correctly, a critic ought to evaluate it to passages taken from works of nice masters of poetry, and that these passages should be applied as touchstones to different poetry. Even a single line or chosen citation will serve the aim. If the opposite work strikes us in the identical method as these lines and expressions do, then it’s actually an excellent work, otherwise not.

This technique was beneficial by Arnold to overcome the shortcomings of the personal and historical estimates of a poem.

Both historical and private estimate goes in vain. In private estimate, we cannot wholly omit the non-public and subjective factors. In historical estimate, historic importance often makes us price a piece as greater than it actually deserves. In order to form a real estimate, one should have the flexibility to distinguish an actual classic. At this point, Arnold presents his theory of Touchstone Method.

A real basic, says Arnold, is a work, which belongs to the class of the easiest. It could be recognized by placing it beside the recognized classics of the world.

Those recognized classics can function the touchstone by which the advantage of up to date poetic work may be tested. This is the central idea of Arnold’s Touchstone Method. Matthew Arnold’s Touchstone Method of Criticism was really a comparative system of criticism. Arnold was mainly a classicist. He admired the traditional Greek, Roman and French authors as the fashions to be followed by the trendy English authors.

The old English like Shakespeare, Spenser or Milton were additionally to be taken as fashions. Arnold took chosen passages from the trendy authors and in contrast them with chosen passages from the traditional authors and thus determined their deserves.

This methodology was known as Arnold’s Touchstone Method. However, this method of judgement has its personal limitations. The technique of comparing passage with a passage isn’t a enough take a look at for figuring out the value of a piece as a complete. Arnold himself insisted that we must judge a poem by the ‘total impression’ and not by its fragments. But we can further prolong this methodology of comparison from passages to the poems as whole models. The comparative technique is a useful aid to appreciation of any kind of artwork.

It is helpful not merely thus to compare the masterpiece and the lesser work, but the good with the not so good, the sincere with the not fairly sincere, and so on. Those who don’t agree with this concept of comparative criticism say that Arnold is merely too austere, too exacting in comparing a simple trendy poet with the traditional master poet. It just isn’t fair to expect that each one hills may be Alps. The mass of current literature is a lot better disregarded. By this method we will set apart the alive, the important, the honest from the shoddy, the showy and the insincere.

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StudyScroll. (2021). Arnold”s Touchstone Method [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 27 September, 2022]

"Arnold”s Touchstone Method" StudyScroll, Dec 26, 2021. Accessed Sep 27, 2022.

"Arnold”s Touchstone Method" StudyScroll, Dec 26, 2021.

"Arnold”s Touchstone Method" StudyScroll, 26-Dec-2021. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

StudyScroll. (2021). Arnold”s Touchstone Method. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 27-Sep-2022]

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