The Critical Works of John Dennis - Vol. 1

The Critical Works of John Dennis - Vol. 1

The Critical Works of John Dennis - Vol. 1

The Critical Works of John Dennis - Vol. 1

Excerpt

It is no longer necessary to apologize for studying the criticism of John Dennis. Not by accident have his writings attracted men of such diverse tastes and temperaments as Dr. Johnson and Wordsworth, Landor and Swinburne. Since the beginning of our century two monographs on Dennis have been issued, and five of his essays have been reprinted in three different collections of critical works. Yet the proneness of even distinguished scholars to accept Pope's ostensible opinion of him, and to group him with Rymer and Gildon, shows that the significance of his contribution to literary theory is still open to misconception. Part of the difficulty has been that his works are not easily available to scholars. Copies of many of his essays are rare -- in fact, they were already rare in the later years of his own lifetime. For over a century and a half writers like Dr. Johnson, Southey, and Spingarn have urged that Dennis's critical essays should be collected and reprinted. Partly in response to such evidence of its desirability, the present edition was undertaken.

Dennis's career as a critic extended over a period of thirty-seven years, and the quantity of his work is large. Nevertheless it has been my aim to reprint all of his literary criticism. Those essays, prefaces, dedications, and letters which deal primarily with literature or literary theory have been reproduced entire. From the writings which mainly concern other interests I have excerpted those passages which pertain to literary criticism, and have presented them, from necessary considerations of space, in smaller type in the Appendix. Titles are taken from the first editions; short titles are used in instances where the full title would be typographically awkward. The dates in roman type under the titles are those which appeared on the title-pages of the first editions. Where there is a great difference between the date of composition and that of publication, I have indicated the date of composition in italics. In general I have reproduced the readings of the original editions verbatim et literatim, correcting only obvious typographical blunders, and making only those slight changes in punctuation which were required to render the meaning clear upon a first reading. A more detailed account of my method of handling the text is given in the introduction to the Textual Notes.

In the Explanatory Notes I have attempted to summarize Dennis's attitude toward all of the main problems in criticism of which he treats, and to indicate briefly the position of other writers, chiefly the French and English critics of the Restoration and early eighteenth century. In the very nature of the attempt such a survey must be sketchy, and perhaps at times superficial, but I have endeavored to present representative opinions so as to give a fair impression of the more significant trends in criticism. Instead of the -- usual introduction, I am incorporating in this edition an essay on Dennis as a critic . . .

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.