The standard scholarly edition of Johnson's works is the Yale
Edition. It's been in progress for about four decades now; the
following volumes are available:
The edition isn't yet complete, and given their pace, don't hold
your breath. For the rest of the major works, these usually
serve as the standard editions:
- Vol. I, Diaries, Prayers, Annals, ed. E. L. McAdam,
Jr., with Donald and Mary Hyde (1959);
- Vol. II, The Idler and The Adventurer, ed. W. J.
Bate, J. M. Bullitt, and L. F. Powell (1963);
- Vols. III, IV, V, The Rambler, ed. W. J. Bate and
Albrecht B. Strauss (1969);
- Vol. VI, Poems, ed. E. L. McAdam, Jr., with George
- Vols. VII, VIII, Johnson on Shakespeare, ed. Arthur
- Vol. IX, A Journey to the Western Islands of
Scotland, ed. Mary Lascelles (1971);
- Vol. X, Political Writings, ed. Donald J. Greene
- Vol. XIV, Sermons, ed. Jean H. Hagstrum and James
- Vol. XV, A Voyage to Abyssinia, ed. Joel J. Gold
- Vol. XVI, Rasselas and Other Tales, ed. Gwin J. Kolb
- Vol. XVII, A Commentary on Mr. Pope's Principles of
Morality, Or Essay on Man (A Translation from the French),
ed. O M Brack, Jr.
- Vol. XVIII, Johnson on the English Language, ed.
Gwin J. Kolb and Robert DeMaria, Jr.
There are also three modern editions of Johnson's letters; the
best and most recent is The Letters of Samuel
Johnson, ed. Bruce Redford, 5 vols. (Princeton: Princeton
Univ. Press, 199294), but R. W. Chapman's edition (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1952) is still handy, especially for numbering the
letters a system Redford dropped.
- Lives of the Poets, ed. G. B. Hill, 3 vols.
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), was long the standard edition;
it's stil useful for its extensive annotations, but a much more
important edition, Lives of the Most Eminent English
Poets, ed. Roger Lonsdale, 4 vols. (Oxford: Oxford Univ.
Press, 2006), has superseded it;
- The Life of Savage can be had either in Hill's
or Lonsdale's Lives or in the standalone text edited
by Clarence Tracy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971);
- The Dictionary is available in several large
facsimiles of the first edition (1755)
and the fourth (1773);
they're all, I'm afraid, expensive. Anne McDermott, though, has
recently edited the full text of both editions on one CD-ROM,
available from Cambridge Univ. Press for around $300. And of
course I'm glad to push my own abridgment: Samuel Johnson's
Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the
English Language (Delray Beach, Fla.: Levenger Press,
2002; New York: Walker & Co., 2003; London: Atlantic, 2004).
See also Anthologies &
- Many of the minor works are available in Samuel Johnson's
Prefaces and Dedications, ed. Allen T. Hazen (New Haven:
Yale Univ. Press, 1937).
- What's left just hasn't received respectable scholarly
treatment in this century. If you don't want to go back to
originals, you'll have to go back to either the 1787
edition of the Works edited by Sir John Hawkins, or the
1825 Oxford Works (reproduced in 1970 by AMS Press).
Some other useful scholarly editions, even though not
"standard": The Poems of Samuel Johnson, ed. D. Nichol
Smith and E. L. McAdam, Jr. (1974); Samuel Johnson: The
Complete English Poems, ed. J. D. Fleeman (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 1971); A Journey to the Western Islands of
Scotland, ed. J. D. Fleeman (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1985). The diaries, prayers, and annals are available (with
other works) in Johnsonian Miscellanies, ed. G. B. Hill,
2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897).
So much for scholarship. But most of the volumes above start at
around $50 each and go up from there. (One exception: Liberty
Fund has reprinted the Yale edition of the Political
Writings in a paperback for around ten bucks.) If you want
to own cheaper editions, Fleeman's edition of the English
Poems is available in paperback. Bronson includes a reliable
edition of Rasselas in his paperback Samuel Johnson:
Rasselas, Poems, and Selected Prose, 3rd ed. (San Francisco:
Holt, Rinehart, 1971). Both Penguin and Oxford do inexpensive
editions of Rasselas. For just about everything else,
you'll have to make do with the Anthologies & Selections.
This is part of a Guide to Samuel
Johnson by Jack Lynch. Comments are welcome.