Johnson published three series of periodical essays. The
Rambler was a series of 208 periodical essays, published
every Tuesday and Saturday from 1750
(Johnson wrote all but a handful). From 1742
he contributed twenty-nine papers to The Adventurer. And
he published The Idler, which appeared weekly in The
The standard editions are The Idler and the Adventurer,
ed. W. J. Bate, J. M. Bullitt, and L. F. Powell, vol. II of the
Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 1963), and The Rambler, ed. W. J. Bate and
Albrecht B. Strauss, vols. III, IV, and V of the Yale Edition of
the Works of Samuel Johnson (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press,
1969). That's the only complete edition in print (though I hope
to change that soon), but you can find selections in almost
every anthology of Johnson's
Some of the more famous (and most anthologized) essays:
Ramblers 4 (on fiction), 60 (on biography), and 286 (on
history); Idlers 4 (on charity), and 60 and 61 (on
literary criticism, through the character of Dick Minim).
Only one book-length study of The Rambler, Lynn's, has
appeared so far. But there are many articles worth looking at,
and nearly every general book on Johnson has much to say about
the Rambler and the other periodical essays.
- Steven Lynn, Samuel Johnson after Deconstruction:
Rhetoric and the Rambler (Carbondale: Southern Illinois
Univ. Press, 1992).
- Edward A. Bloom, "Symbolic Names in Johnson's Periodical Essays,"
MLQ, 13 (December 1952), 333-52.
This is part of a Guide to Samuel
Johnson by Jack Lynch. Comments are welcome.