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Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

Nationality: British Periods: British: 18th Century

essayist, poet, “Great Cham of Literature,” compiler of The Dictionary of the English Language

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Our pages on these individual works by Samuel Johnson

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

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Criticism about Samuel Johnson

False Refinement and Declension: Johnson on the History of the Language
“”Every language,” as we know, “has a time of rudeness antecedent to perfection, as well as of false refinement and declension.”1 Now rise and fall together suggest a peak, and in this paper I’d like to discuss this linguistic trajectory by placing Johnson’s comments on the history of the language in the context of other such statements from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries. My concern is the way these historical considerations work their way into discussions of linguistic propriety.”
Contains: Commentary, Criticism
Author: Lynch. Jack
The Ground-Work of Style: Use, Elegance, and National Identity in Johnson’s Dictionary
“It’s always wise to take metaphors seriously; it’s doubly so with so careful a writer as Johnson; and I suggest it’s trebly so in the Dictionary. Johnson’s calling the sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century writers “undefiled” (a borrowing from Spenser) and “pure sources” suggests a concomitant corruption in others. Purity versus corruption was an important theme in the eighteenth century; George Campbell’s 1776 Philosophy of Rhetoric, for instance, makes much of an unadulterated English tongue. But however much the metaphor was used in Hanoverian London, it originated neither there nor then.”
Contains: Commentary, Criticism
Author: Lynch, Jack
A Guide to Samuel Johnson
“This is nothing like a comprehensive guide to the literature, although I do discuss some real bibliographies. I cover a few works of scholarship, and those not necessarily my favorites — they’re the ones that I think are most important for a beginner to know, the most often quoted, though not always the most thought-provoking. “
Contains: Works List, Webliography, Bibliography, Criticism, Commentary, Pictures
Author: Lynch, Jack
Johnson and Boswell
This lengthy analysis of the authors’ lives and works includes sections titled “Boswell�s Johnson the Johnson familiarly known to us; His personality and his Works”, “Johnson�s Earlier Verse”, “The Rambler and the Revival of the Periodical Essay”, “Rasselas and its lesson”, “Johnson�s last years and death”, “Boswell�s earlier experiences and Writings” and “His Life of Johnson, with the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, his enduring title to fame.”
Contains: Extensive Bio, Criticism, Bibliography
Author: David Nichol Smith
From: The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Volume X: English, The Age of Johnson
Studied Barbarity: Johnson, Spenser, and Literary Progress
“Spenser was much on the mind of Samuel Johnson, one of the most active and important of those developing our notion of the Renaissance — not in any extended treatment, but in scattered comments from the 1730s through the ’80s.2 Spenser’s position in Johnson’s thought has received little attention,3 but tugging on these Spenserian loose ends reveals a thread woven across the entire fabric of Johnson’s criticism. “
Contains: Criticism, Commentary
Author: Lynch, Jack

Biographical sites about Samuel Johnson

Johnson’s Life
This site, provided by the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, contains biographical information about him.
Contains: Full Bio, Sketch
Keywords: life, history, biography

Other sites about Samuel Johnson

Johnsonian Bibliography, 1986-1997
“This bibliography, part of my Samuel Johnson Page and my Eighteenth-Century Resources, is an attempt to bring the coverage of the series of Johnsonian Bibliographies (edited by James Clifford, Donald Greene, and John A. Vance) up to the present; it’s now unannotated, but that may change.”
Contains: Bibliography
Author: Lynch, Jack
The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page
This site offers an archive of over 1000 quotes by Samuel Johnson, organized by subject or searchable by keyword. There is also a good timeline of Johnson’s life, gleaned from several cited books, a biographical sketch, a portrait of the author, and some suggested reading. There is also a list of links to other Johnson sites on the web.
Contains: Extensive Bio, Pictures, Timeline, Webliography, Bibliography, Works Available
Author: Frank Lynch

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Last Updated Apr 29, 2013