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The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson
Cambridge University Press. 1997. 2nd impression 1999. xx+267 pages.
ISBN: 0-521-55625-2 (paperback), $23. 0-521-55411-x (hardback), $65.

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This book provides a unique introduction to the works and intellectual life of one of the most challenging and wide-ranging writers in English literary history: compiler of the first great English dictionary, editor of Shakespeare, biographer and critic of the English poets, author of both the influential journal The Rambler and the popular fiction Rasselas, and one of the most engaging conversationalists in literary culture. The keynote to the volume is the seamlessness of Johnson’s life and writing, and the extraordinary humane intelligence he brought to all his activities. Accessibly written by a distinguished group of international scholars, this volume supplies a stimulating range of approaches making Johnson newly relevant for his time.

Contents

Chronology

Introduction, Greg Clingham

  1. Extraordinarily ordinary: the life of Samuel Johnson. Philip Davis
  2. Johnson’s Poetry. Howard D. Weinbrot
  3. Johnson, the essay, and the Rambler. Paul J. Korshin
  4. Johnson and the condition of women. Eithne Henson
  5. Johnson’s Dictionary. Robert De Maria Jr.
  6. Johnson’s Politics. Robert Folkenflik
  7. Johnson and imperialism. Clement Hawes
  8. The skepticism of Johnson’s Rasselas. Fred Parker
  9. Shakespeare: Johnson’s poet of nature. Philip Smallwood
  10. Life and Literature in Johnson’s Lives of the Poets. Greg Clingham
  11. Johnson’s Christian Thought. Michael Suarez, SJ
  12. “From China to Peru:” Johnson in the traveled world. John Wiltshire
  13. “Letters about Nothing:” Johnson and epistolary writing. Tom Keymer
  14. Johnson’s critical reception. Steven Lynn

Further reading

“This is a collection rich in insights.”

Paul Dean in English Studies

“An outstanding introduction to ‘The Great Cham of Literature.”

W.A. Munford in Library Association Record

“Greg Clingham has done a masterful job of editing The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson, which has no bad essays and some thoroughly admirable ones.”

Donna Landry and Gerald Maclean in SEL

“The editor has ensured that a coherent view of Johnson emerges from the volume, which clearly marks the final abolition of Johnson as a critic whose importance is mainly historical. We are shown repeatedly how close Johnson the writer is to our own literary and human concerns.

A.F.T. Lurcock in Notes and Queries

“The striking thing about this collection is the consistency of the contributions: nearly all are well written and well argued, and their coverage, both individually and collectively, is admirably broad.”

Jack Lynch in Essays in Criticism


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