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The Study Of Literature
English Literature Of The 19th Century:
 John Richard Green

 Alexander William Kinglake

 Poets Of The Later Victorian Period

 William Morris

 Algernon Charles Swinburne

 Sir Edwin Arnold

 William Watson

 Alfred Austin

 Herbert Spencer

 Henry Drummond

 Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century

Sir Edwin Arnold

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

By a sympathetic revelation of the principles of Buddhism in "The Light of Asia," Edwin Arnold won wide fame for himself and favor for the religious system which moulds the lives of one-fourth of the human race. He was born in Sussex, England, in 1832, and after graduating at Oxford, engaged in teaching at Birmingham. As principal of a Sanskrit college at Poonah, India, from 1857 to 1861, he acquired that special familiarity with the religions of Asia which is displayed in his later work. Returning to England for a vacation, chance led him to an important editorial position on the London "Telegraph." After some translations from Greek and Sanskrit, he issued, in 1879, his poetical paraphrase of the life and teachings of Buddha. By its brilliant local color and gorgeous imagery, as well as the interwoven resemblance to the Christian Gospels, this epic captivated the world. Then in 1881 came "Indian Idylls," taken from the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, and in 1883, "Pearls of the Faith; or Islam's Rosary," which was intended to do for Mohammedanism what his former poem had done for Buddhism. Next the author turned to Persia, and translating from Sadi's poems, published, in 1888, "Sadi in the Garden; or the Book of Love." Taking up the story of Jesus, he wrote "The Light of the World" (1892), but none of his later works attained the success of that on Buddha. His visit to Japan in 1892 furnished material for his prose work "Japonica," and led to his marriage with a Japanese lady. His former wife was an American. Arnold has been a diligent and versatile journalist as well as poet. His friendly exposition of non-Christian religions has brought high honors from the King of Siam, the Sultan of Turkey, the Shah of Persia, and the Emperor of Japan. Queen Victoria also, in 1888, created him Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. These honors are undoubtedly deserved, as Arnold's works have done much to make the adherents of various religions better acquainted with each other's views. But his merits as a poet are not so highly esteemed as formerly. The poetry is picturesque, the meter graceful, but the embellishment too lavish to suit the Western mind, and the introduction of foreign terms, hardly to be understood, fatigues the reader.

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