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Book Title: The Lives of the Poets: Boxed Set|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 953 KB
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The author of the book: Samuel Johnson
Edition: Oxford University Press, USA
Date of issue: March 1st 2006
ISBN 13: 9780199278978
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Reader ratings: 7.7
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Johnson himself wrote in 1782: "I know not that I have written any thing more generally commended than the Lives of the Poets." Always recognized as a major biographical and critical achievement, Samuel Johnson's last literary project is also one of his most readable and entertaining, written with characteristic eloquence and conviction, and at times with combative trenchancy.
Johnson's fifty-two biographies constitute a detailed survey of English poetry from the early seventeenth century down to his own time, with extended discussions of Cowley, Milton, Waller, Dryden, Addison, Prior, Swift, Pope, and Gray. The Lives also include Johnson's memorable biography of the enigmatic Richard Savage (1744), the friend of his own early years in London.
Roger Lonsdale's Introduction describes the origins, composition, and textual history of the Lives, and assesses Johnson's assumptions and aims as biographer and critic. The commentary provides a detailed literary and historical context, investigating Johnson's sources, relating the Lives to his own earlier writings and conversation, and to the critical opinions of his contemporaries, as well as illustrating their early reception. This is the first scholarly edition since George Birkbeck Hill's three-volume Oxford edition (1905).
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Read information about the authorSamuel 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.
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