Written as a series of periodical essays from 1867 to 1868 and published in Cornhill Magazine, Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy was collected as a book in 1869. In the book, Arnold examines Victorian culture in England. He questions how culture and society are intertwined -- if they are at all -- and even questions if culture (which he calls the "study of perfection") is necessary and does any good. Ultimately, though, Culture and Anarchy is a historical study of the time.
Perhaps Arnold's most-famous work, Culture and Anarchy received positive reviews at release -- and continues to hold cultural recognition to this day. On The Guardian's list of the 100 best non-fiction books of all time, Culture and Anarchy ranked number 59. A paper from Yale University called the book "particularly relevant now" and said that "Culture and Anarchy is one of the central texts of the western intellectual tradition and has helped to shape thinking about the tasks and requirements of culture and civil society." Other reviewers criticized Arnold's "difficult" writing. Still, Culture and Anarchy is an influential book which will be remembered as a classic work of commentary.