'Samuel Johnson: The Major Works'
By Samuel Johnson (Author), Donald Greene (Editor)
Samuel Johnson's literary reputation rests on such a varied output that he defies easy description: poet, critic, lexicographer, travel writer, essayist, editor, and, thanks to his good friend Boswell, the subject of one of the most famous English biographies.
This volume celebrates Johnson's astonishing talent by selecting widely across the full range of his work. It includes "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" among other poems, and many of his essays for the Rambler and Idler. The prefaces to his edition of Shakespeare and his famous Dictionary, together with samples from the texts, are given, as well as selections from A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, the Lives of the Poets, and Rasselas in its entirety. There is also a substantial representation of lesser-known prose, and of his poetry, letters, and journals.
This edition represents the single most comprehensive anthology of Johnson's works. With a new, modern package this is an invaluable classic to add to your collection.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Samuel Johnson was an English author. Beginning as a Grub Street journalist, he made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history". He is also the subject of one of the most celebrated biographies in English, James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. Boswell's Life, along with other biographies, documented Johnson's behaviour and mannerisms in such detail that they have informed the posthumous diagnosis of Tourette syndrome (TS), a condition unknown to 18th-century physicians. He presented a tall and robust figure, but his odd gestures and tics were confusing to some on their first encounter with him.
Johnson was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and attended Pembroke College, Oxford for a year, before his lack of funds forced him to leave. After working as a teacher he moved to London, where he began to write essays for The Gentleman's Magazine. His early works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage and the poem "The Vanity of Human Wishes." Johnson was a devout and compassionate man, whose Christian morality permeated his works. Although he was a conservative Anglican, he respected those of other denominations who demonstrated a commitment to Christ's teachings.
After nine years of work, his Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755, bringing him popularity and success; until the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary, 150 years later, Johnson's was viewed as the preeminent British dictionary. In the following years, he published essays, an influential annotated edition of William Shakespeare's plays, and the well-read novel Rasselas. In 1763, he befriended James Boswell, with whom he later travelled to Scotland; Johnson's travel narrative A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland described the journey. Towards the end of his life, he produced the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, which includes biographies and evaluations of 17th- and 18th-century poets. After a series of illnesses, Johnson died on the evening of 13 December 1784; he was buried in Westminster Abbey. In the years following his death, Johnson began to be recognised as having had a lasting effect on literary criticism, and even as the only great critic of English literature.
Note: 'The Great Books of the Western World' recommends Johnson's 'The Vanity of Human Wishes', 'Dictionary' and 'Lives of the Poets'.