Samuel Johnson  

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"I remember a remark made by Scaliger upon Pontanus, that all his writings are filled with the same images; and that if you take from him his lilies and his roses, his satyrs and his dryads, he will have nothing left that can be called poetry. In like manner almost all the fictions of the last age will vanish, if you deprive them of a hermit and a wood, a battle and a shipwreck.

Why this wild strain of imagination found reception so long in polite and learned ages, it is not easy to conceive; but we cannot wonder that while readers could be procured, the authors were willing to continue it; for when a man had by practice gained some fluency of language, he had no further care than to retire to his closet, let loose his invention, and heat his mind with incredibilities; a book was thus produced without fear of criticism, without the toil of study, without knowledge of nature, or acquaintance with life."

--The Rambler () by Samuel Johnson

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Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), often called Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions as a poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. He was a devout Anglican, and a committed Tory. His witty asides are still in print today.

After work as a teacher, he moved to London and began writing for The Gentleman's Magazine. Early works include Life of Mr Richard Savage, the poems London and The Vanity of Human Wishes and the play Irene. After nine years' effort, Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language appeared in 1755 with far-reaching effects on Modern English, acclaimed as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship". Until the arrival of the Oxford English Dictionary 150 years later, Johnson's was pre-eminent. Later work included essays, an annotated The Plays of William Shakespeare and The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. In 1763 he befriended James Boswell, with whom he travelled to Scotland, as Johnson described in A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. Near the end of his life came a massive, influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets of 17th and 18th centuries.

Tall and robust, he displayed gestures and tics that disconcerted some on meeting him. 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, a condition not defined or diagnosed in the 18th century. After several illnesses, he died on the evening of 13 December 1784 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Thereafter he was increasingly seen to have had a lasting effect on literary criticism and even claimed to be the one truly great critic of English literature.

Major works

Essays, pamphlets, periodicals, sermons
1732–33Birmingham Journal
1747Plan for a Dictionary of the English Language
1750–52The Rambler
1753–54The Adventurer
1756Universal Visiter
1756-The Literary Magazine, or Universal Review
1758–60The Idler (1758–1760)
1770The False Alarm
1771Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland's Islands
1774The Patriot
1775A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
Taxation No Tyranny
1781The Beauties of Johnson
1728Messiah, a translation into Latin of Alexander Pope's Messiah
1747Prologue at the Opening of the Theatre in Drury Lane
1749The Vanity of Human Wishes
Irene, a Tragedy
Biographies, criticism
1744Life of Mr Richard Savage
1745Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth
1756"Life of Browne" in Thomas Browne's Christian Morals
Proposals for Printing, by Subscription, the Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare
1765Preface to the Plays of William Shakespeare
The Plays of William Shakespeare
1779–81Lives of the Poets
1755Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language
A Dictionary of the English Language
1759The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

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