Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2000 M03 15 - 384 pages
Tracing Samuel Johnson's rocky climb from anonymity to fame, in the course of which he came to stand for both the greatness of English literature and the good sense of the common reader, Lipking shows how this life transformed the very nature of authorship.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

The Birth of the Author The Letter to Chesterfield
11
First Flowers Johnsons Beginnings
34
Becoming an Author London Life of Savage
48
Preferments Gate The Vanity of Human Wishes
86
Man of Letters A Dictionary of the English Language
103
The Living World The Rambler
145
Reclaiming Imagination Rasselas
173
The Theater of Mind The Plays of William Shakespeare
198
Journeying Westward Political Writings A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
234
Touching the Shore The Lives of the English Poets
259
The Life to Come Johnsons Endings
295
Abbreviation
307
Notes
309
Index
363
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 13 - I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could, and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.
Page 263 - In the character of his elegy I rejoice to concur with the common reader ; for by the common sense of readers, uncorrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours.
Page 131 - In hope of giving longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of my country, that we may no longer yield the palm of philology, without a contest, to the nations of the continent.
Page 276 - The plan of Paradise Lost has this inconvenience, that it comprises neither human actions nor human manners. The man and woman who act and suffer, are in a state which no other man or woman can ever know.
Page 13 - Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help ? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received,...
Page 230 - The moral to be drawn from this representation is, that no man is more dangerous than he that, with a will to corrupt, hath the power to please ; and that neither wit nor honesty ought to think themselves safe with such a companion, when they see Henry seduced by Falstaff.
Page 277 - His epithet buxom health is not elegant; he seems not to understand the word. Gray thought his language more poetical as it was more remote from common use: finding in Dryden honey redolent of Spring, an expression that reaches the utmost limits of our language, Gray drove it a little more beyond common apprehension, by making gales to be redolent of joy and youth.
Page 12 - My Lord, I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of The World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the public, were written by your Lordship. To be so distinguished, is an...

About the author (2000)

Lawrence Lipking is the Chester D. Tripp Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University.

Bibliographic information