The Age of Johnson:
A Scholarly Annual

Preface to Volume 18 (2007)

Volume 18 is the first special issue of The Age of Johnson, and bears the volume title Korshin Memorial Essays. The articles in this volume have been solicited from friends, colleagues, and former students of the founding editor of the journal, Paul J. Korshin, who died in March 2005.

Previous volumes have featured special sections and occasional solicited essays, but the bulk of every annual number has been devoted to refereed scholarly articles. It would not be wise to abandon the standard of peer-reviewed publication altogether, but the strength of the contributions to this volume justify the exception in this case. The articles show a degree of coherence that excuses a one-time departure from the professional norm.

Paul Korshin always valued broad and deep learning above all. I remember praising one criticís writing, but Paul's question was, "Yes, Jack, but does he know things?" It's therefore appropriate that this volume should open with Robert Folkenflik, one of our most learned Johnsonians, who knows plenty. Here he turns his attention to the politics implicit in the Dictionary, offering new insights in an ongoing conversation on the nature of that endlessly rich book — one that Folkenflik describes as "an encyclopedia, an anthology, a commonplace book, a collection of aphorisms." And Thomas M. Curley, whose knowledge of the Ossian affair has no rivals, documents Johnsonís friendship with William Shaw, one of the more prominent combatants in the debate over Macpherson's putative translations.

In John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty, Arthur H. Cash disavows any claims to having written the definitive biography of his subject, but anyone who has read the book will disagree with his modest self-assessment. In his contribution to this volume he provides further details on Wilkes and his relationship with Johnson — not only from their famous dinner at the Dilly brothers' table (perhaps the most famous single scene in Boswell's Life), but also the disagreements over political principles that made Boswell so keen to stage their meeting. Another kind of highly charged meeting is the subject of Howard D. Weinbrotís article, the first account of a hitherto neglected genre — "meeting the monarch." The form has even twenty-first-century exemplars, but Johnson offers one of the most important eighteenth-century royal encounters.

Paul's career-long fascination with the difficulties of interpretation is evident in a series of contributions. Paul's own scholarship was regarded as traditionally historicist, but he went out of his way to invite theoretically informed contributions to The Age of Johnson. It's therefore fitting that Philip Smallwood's article on Johnsonís place in global studies offers a consideration of a major figure from English literature in the wider field of world literature, as "world" is being redefined around us. James Cruise's learned and wide-ranging meditation on hieroglyphics in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain is informed by Paul's interest in secret languages. In "Novel or Fictional Memoir," Maximilian Novak explores the publication history of Robinson Crusoe and its relationship to the line between truth and fiction. Truth and fiction are at the heart of my own contribution, on the problems of identifying forgery, which grew out of a series of discussions with Paul.

James Gray not only accounts for differences between the acting theories of Diderot and Garrick, but also offers to English readers extracts from Diderot's often neglected Paradoxe sur le comédien. Lisa Berglund sorts through a shelf of editions of Hester Thrale Piozzi's Anecdotes, demonstrating in the process that "Piozzi's reconstructive and critical editors have supplied new narrative contexts for Anecdotes, structures that discount her psychological insights and artistic preferences." In "Truths Universally Acknowledged," Mona Scheuermann gives an incisive reading of the place of social class in Austen's Mansfield Park. George Justice revisits Paul's fascination with the history of education in his commentary on John Gibson Lockhart's early nineteenth-century novel, Reginald Dalton. Gloria Sybil Gross rounds out the essay section with the first systematic account of Stanley Kubrick's interest in the eighteenth century.

After the essays comes a bibliography of Paul's writings, which is followed by a special section. "No Writer nor Scholar Need Be Dull" collects personal reminiscences from a wide variety of friends, colleagues, and former students, who together offer a composite portrait of Paul Korshin the scholar, the teacher, the mentor, the colleague, the man, and above all the friend.

Volume 18 also includes the usual collection of reviews. Since the scholarly edition provides the foundation of serious eighteenth-century scholarship, the review section opens with Allen Reddick's substantial account of the latest volume in The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson and Anthony W. Lee's observations on a new scholarly edition of Boswell's first major work. There are also penetrating notices on a variety of scholarly publications on political poetry, satire, classical translation, the history of the novel, bastardy, publishing culture, theatrical history, and an interdisciplinary examination of the eighteenth century as a whole.

Two melancholy addenda to an already melancholy preface. The first is that Morris R. Brownell, a valued member of the editorial board from volume 5 through volume 16, died in March 2007 after suffering from Parkinson's Disease. The second bit of sad news came as this volume was going to press, when I received word that Gloria Sybil Gross — another long-time contributor to and friend of The Age of Johnson — died in September 2007. The day before her death she sent me the final corrections to her article in this volume, a testimonial to her own fine scholarship.

The Editor gratefully acknowledges the support of the Office of the Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University – Newark Campus.

Jack Lynch
Newark

16 October 2007