The Age of Johnson:
A Scholarly Annual

Preface to Volume 13 (2002)

In the Preface to The Age of Johnson, Volume 12 (2001), we noted that our enlarged editorial board, effective with last year's issue, reflects "the constant and surprisingly rapid changes in the scholarship of eighteenth-century England in the last fifteen years." One of the changes that readers of this annual will notice most readily is that we are now publishing fewer essays specifically about Samuel Johnson and more about the wider circle of writers, thinkers, and intellectuals around him. A learned journal reflects the interests of its scholarly discipline. Accordingly, students of eighteenth-century England in 2002 are evidently thinking less of interpretations of literary works than they were twenty years ago and more of what once seemed to be ancillary topics like economics, the consumption of goods and services, and the emergence of new social classes and new habits of life. Three of the essays in Volume 13 relate to such topics. Aaron Stavisky, in "Johnson and the Market Economy," discusses Johnson's economic thought; Nicholas Hudson deals with Johnson and the rise of modern, middle-class society; and Jocelyn Harris, in a review essay, examines the notion reflected in much contemporary scholarship of the reader as a consumer.

This volume, however, also reflects the most traditional of twentieth-century scholarly topics, bibliography. In Volume 13, we publish the longest review essay in our history, devoted to the longest work of Johnsonian scholarship of the twentieth century, J. David Fleeman's A Bibliography of the Works of Samuel Johnson (2 vols., 2000). Fleeman's magisterial project took him most of his scholarly lifetime; it is surely fitting that David Vander Meulen devoted nearly two years to reviewing it. As an accompaniment to this review essay, we include James McLaverty's account of his contributions to the last stages of Fleeman's work. Another highly traditional contribution to this year's volume is Paul Tankard's essay on Johnson's many projected works, a fascinating side of Johnsonian studies — not the works he wrote, but the works he thought about writing. Of the other essays on Johnson this year, two are on Rasselas, George Justice's "Imlac's Pedagogy" and Lance Wilcox's "Nothing is Concluded: Space and Freedom in Johnson's Rasselas," while Steven Scherwatzky adds a new perspective to our many recent essays on Johnson's politics. The circle of writers around Johnson continues to be a major focus of this annual, represented this year by essays on Frances Burney (by John L. Abbott), on John Gilbert Cooper (by Robin Dix), on John Wilkes (by Arthur Cash), and on Ann Yearsley (by Mary Waldron).

We have promised to include more review essays each year as we try to focus on large collections of books on the same topic or multi-volume works by one author. This year, in addition to the essays by Jocelyn Harris and David Vander Meulen, we include review essays on Eliza Haywood and on The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Poetry. The systematic bibliographies that cover our field do not give the same degree of attention (or, in certain cases, any attention at all) to book reviews as they do to essays, so we have evolved the policy of treating longer reviews as essays. One of the purposes of a learned journal is the attention it gives to the steady growth of its field, so one of the greatest strengths of a journal is the authority of its reviews. Indeed, some of the more memorable publications of the last century have been in the form of book reviews: in this context, A. E. Housman's reviews in scholarly journals have become famous in classical studies. So, too, in our field, some of Donald Greene's scholarly book reviews will soon reappear in the collection of his writings that John Abbott has edited and which Bucknell University Press will soon publish. There are fewer books directly on Johnson and his circle than there were fifteen years ago, but there are more books which include Johnson or Boswell as the subject of a single chapter than we have formerly seen. Johnson is not merely the single subject of a few books: he has become the focus or the partial focus of almost all studies on the mid and later eighteenth century.

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

1 February 2002