Article

Samuel Johnson

Jack Lynch

in British and Irish Literature

ISBN: 9780199846719
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199846719-0030
Samuel Johnson

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Critics and historians have been fascinated by Samuel Johnson almost since he arrived in London in 1738. He was the subject of extensive commentary throughout his life, and within days of his death several short biographical sketches appeared. Since then the volume of commentary has exploded: each year sees about two hundred books, reviews, and articles on Johnson’s life and works. Among major British authors, this places him behind only Shakespeare, Milton, Chaucer, and Joyce in terms of the volume of commentary. What’s more, much of this scholarship is deeply contextual, referring to every aspect of his world. Johnson brought a polymath’s knowledge to a tremendous range of interests, and there is hardly a subject that doesn’t appear in the scholarship on Johnson—politics, science, medicine, philosophy, criticism, classical studies. The variety of approaches that have been taken to Johnson is equally broad: traditional historicism, New Critical close reading, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, and so on. The result is that the modern reader is in for tremendous richness, but also tremendous challenges, in trying to understand Johnson’s writings. This bibliography highlights the most important and influential scholarship on Johnson’s life, his works, and his age, and describes some of the concerns that have dominated Johnsonian scholarship over the last century.

Article.  11837 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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