The Age of Johnson:
A Scholarly Annual

Preface to Volume 12 (2001)

With The Age of Johnson, Volume 12, the editors welcome a number of long-time contributors to our editorial board: James G. Basker of Barnard College; Robert DeMaria, Jr., of Vassar College; Robert Folkenflik of the University of California, Irvine; Dustin Griffin of New York University; Nicholas Hudson of the University of British Columbia; Anne C. McDermott of the University of Birmingham; Karen O'Brien of the University of Warwick; Catherine N. Parke of the University of Missouri; Allan Reddick of Universität Zürich; and Richard Wendorf of The Boston Athenæum. Our editorial board is now more than three times as large as it was at the time of Volume 1, reflecting the constant changes in the scholarship of eighteenth-century England in the last fifteen years.

The contents of Volume 12 underscore these changes in a number of ways. We include the longest essay we have ever printed, Thomas M. Curley's penetrating study of Johnson and the Irish. Nearly as long is Gloria Sybil Gross's contribution on Johnson and Jane Austen. Austen's single most famous sentence, the opening of Pride and Prejudice, has long been recognized as Johnsonian (the source is Rambler 115); Professor Gross gives us a much richer sense of Austen's debt to Johnson. There will be more to come when her essay appears, next year, as part of her book on the subject. Volume 12 also contains three pairs of essays. Two are on the notion of Johnson's putative Jacobitism, the first by Niall MacKenzie, the second an effort at refutation by Howard Weinbrot. Two more, by Arthur H. Cash and Melvyn New, present striking new readings of works by Laurence Sterne. Finally, there is a pairing of essays on new directions in eighteenth-century literary studies by Martin C. Battestin and, responding to him, Jill Campbell. Freya Johnston and Betty Rizzo contribute new essays on aspects of Johnson, Dr. Johnston on the Journey to the Western Islands, Professor Rizzo on Johnson and the Grevilles. Finally, James G. Basker continues a subject he first discussed in Volume 11, with a further article on Johnson and abolitionism.

We have long sought to encourage definitive essays about eighteenth-century studies; so, too, we try to make a review in our pages as close to definitive as we can. In Volume 12, therefore, we publish William McCarthy's review essay on the first five volumes of The Piozzi Letters. And, among the two dozen reviews in this volume (our largest number ever), all of them detailed, several stand out for their unusual depth and learning: Barry Baldwin's review of Scott Evans's Samuel Johnson's "General Nature," John Radner's review of Peter Martin's Life of James Boswell, James Gray's review of the latest Cambridge Companion, Steven N. Zwicker's Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1650–1740, William Edinger's review of Jonathan Kramnick's Making the English Canon, and John Abbott's review of William Zachs's First John Murray. This brief accounting can only hint at the riches of almost two hundred pages of reviews. Scholarly book reviews do not rate indexing in most of the standard bibliographies, yet they are are substantial scholarly undertakings. Our aim is to make every review in The Age of Johnson a definitive statement on the state of learning as displayed by the book under review.

The editors gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Department of English and the School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul J. Korshin

Jack Lynch

15 April 2001