Aspects of Samuel Johnson: Essays on His Arts, Mind, Afterlife, and Politics

Aspects of Samuel Johnson: Essays on His Arts, Mind, Afterlife, and Politics

Aspects of Samuel Johnson: Essays on His Arts, Mind, Afterlife, and Politics

Aspects of Samuel Johnson: Essays on His Arts, Mind, Afterlife, and Politics

Synopsis

Howard D. Weinbrot's Aspects of Samuel Johnson: Essays on His Arts, Mind, Afterlife, and Politics collects earlier and new essays on Johnson's varied achievements in lexicography, poetry, narrative, and prose style. It considers Johnson's uses of the general and the particular as they relate to the reader's role in the creative process, his complex approach to the concept of literary genre, and his resolutely in-human view of skepticism.

Excerpt

Most of the essays within have appeared in several venues over several years. “Johnson and Genre” and “ ‘Obstinate Contests of Disagreeing Virtues’ ” are new. “What Johnson’s Illustrations Illustrate” and “Johnson Before Boswell in Eighteenth-Century France” also are new but may appear in other places within this year. “Johnson and the Arts of Narration” was a plenary address organized by the late David Fleeman and held in 1984 at the Pembroke College Oxford bicentennial anniversary of Johnson’s death. It was published in Beirut, probably is known to as many readers as can fill a Lilliputian’s thimble, and is essentially new to the Johnson community. I have reordered seven essays on Johnson and Jacobitism into the four with which the book concludes. To paraphrase Win Jenkins in Humphry Clinker, the words are the same but the language is different.

A long scholarly career incurs a long list of debts. These include the earlier generations of scholars on either side of the Atlantic, those whom I could only know by name and work. David Fleeman engineered my one brief meeting with the aged L. F. Powell, to whom respect was deservedly due and gladly given. Such admiration was due as well to Johnson’s ultimate bibliographer himself and to the other ancestors who returned Johnson and his texts to intellectual and emotional prominence after Victorian condescension. the Yale Edition of Johnson’s works and Bruce Redford’s Hyde Edition of Johnson’s letters are the final great tributes to that restorative tradition. Gwin J. Kolb was my first Johnsonian mentor, and in different ways Donald Greene and Walter Jackson Bate followed and taught me much about Johnson’s inner and outer lives. the community of Johnsonians has always been welcome and welcoming.

It remains so today, both with institutions and with too many valued friends to list. I here cite a few. in looking at these essays and their notes, readers will see several references to the annual Age of Johnson. Its first number appeared in 1987, volume 15 now is in hand, and it shows every sign of continuing its demonstrable distinction. The Age of Johnson was founded by Paul J. Korshin at the University of Pennsylvania, now is co-

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