The Critical Opinions of Samuel Johnson

The Critical Opinions of Samuel Johnson

The Critical Opinions of Samuel Johnson

The Critical Opinions of Samuel Johnson

Excerpt

Dictionaries," wrote Johnson, "are like watches, the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true." This may, perhaps, serve both as justification for the present undertaking, and as apology for such "casual eclipses of the mind" of the compiler as may darken these pages.

It is hoped that the student of eighteenth century thought may here find in convenient form a considerable body of representative criticism, and that the Johnsonian may take delight in travelling over a corner of this robust mind, and re-discovering, perhaps, forgotten by paths of wisdom and humour.

Completeness has been aimed at within certain limits. The whole Johnsonian canon has been covered, with the exception of a few pages of unpromising material (chiefly scarce "Dedications" and "Proposals"), which have not been available for examination. Every passage of a critical nature relating to original works whose primary aim is literary, rather than utilitarian or technical, is, I hope, either quoted in full, paraphrased, or, if unimportant, at least referred to, in the following pages. Comments on volumes of sermons, philosophical works, obscure translations or histories, and editorial undertakings, are not ordinarily included, unless the interest warrants. No attempt has been made to garner mere statements of fact which do not involve critical appraisal. In certain cases, however, where the material is not strictly critical, but of . . .

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