Johnson the Poet: The Poetic Career of Samuel Johnson

Johnson the Poet: The Poetic Career of Samuel Johnson

Johnson the Poet: The Poetic Career of Samuel Johnson

Johnson the Poet: The Poetic Career of Samuel Johnson

Synopsis

"Johnson the Poet is the first book to deal with the entire canon of Samuel Johnson's poetry, written over the course of almost sixty years, from 1725 to 1784. It provides critical commentary on Johnson's long and versatile poetic career - as novice poet, formal verse imitator and satirist, playwright, moralist and closet theologian, neo-Latinist, elegist, prologuist, and writer of impromptu drawing-room verse - while setting his verse in eighteenth-century political, theological, moral, and literary contexts. Through this combination of close reading and contextualized analysis, the book explores Johnson's complicated attitude toward the prevailing conventions of eighteenth-century poetics and the enterprise of writing poetry." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Introduction: the Poet, His Poems, and
Place in the World of Restoration
and Eighteenth-Century Poets

In 1930, T. S. eliot pronounced samuel johnson a major poet largely on the strength of two poems, London (1738) and The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749). Eliot had made similar assessments just a few years earlier of Andrew Marvell and John Dryden; but, while his comments regarding those poets have led to the publication of many book-length studies about each of those writers as poets, almost seventy years have elapsed without any book yet appearing on Samuel Johnson solely as a poet. While it is true that the two poems Eliot thought justifying Johnson's status as a major poet have received abundant critical attention, there is no source to which students, scholars, and the informed general reader can turn for a general history of all Johnson's poetry. Indeed, to most readers of English literature with the exception of specialized Johnsonians, much of this substantial body of work is unknown. Johnson the Poet is the first book entirely devoted to this lesserknown aspect of Johnson's literary career. This book seeks to provide a historical account of the development of Johnson's career as a poet by studying it within the context of his moral, critical, political, and theological beliefs and opinions from his youth in the 1720s until his death in 1784.

Before outlining the contents of this book, I would like to discuss some general characteristics of Samuel Johnson's poetry and compositional practice, attempt to place the trajectory of his career as a poet within the arc of his overall literary career, and propose a revaluation of Johnson as an important eighteenth-century poet. Johnson was, during his lifetime, highly regarded as a poet, yet poetry remained, for most of his career, an avocation rather than a vocation. Beginning in the mid-1740s, less than a decade after he moved to London in 1737, Johnson relied on large, long-term, potentially remunerative literary projects such as the Parliamentary Debates, the Catalogus Bibliothecae Harleianae, the Dictionary, the edition of Shakespeare's . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.