Apart from the works listed under Introductions
and the more specific critical works listed under each of Johnson's major
works, some of the important general scholarly articles and monographs are
worth pointing out. Note that this section of my little guidelet is less
satisfactory than any of the others; I'm just trying to point out some
A number of collections of essays are worth knowing:
I'll also mention The Age of
Johnson: A Scholarly Annual, ed. Paul J. Korshin and Jack
Lynch, which I think publishes some of the best recent Johnson
scholarship but then, I'm biased, since I'm on the payroll.
- F. W. Hilles, ed., New Light on Dr. Johnson (New
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1959). A collection uneven, as all
collections are of Johnsonian goodies.
- Donald J. Greene, ed., Samuel Johnson: A Collection of
Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1965). A handy
collection of major essays from the forties and fifties.
- Paul J. Korshin, ed., Johnson after Two Hundred Years
(Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1986).
Oldies But Goodies
Much of the important scholarship on Johnson is pretty old
not to say old-fashioned. Even without going back to the almost
antiquarian titles (like Leslie Stephen's History of English
Thought in the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols. [London: Smith,
1876], and Walter Raleigh's Six Essays on Johnson
[Oxford: Clarendon, 1910]), a serious student should read a
number of volumes from before 1970, including:
- W. K. Wimsatt, The Prose Style of Samuel Johnson (New
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1941).
- W. K. Wimsatt, Philosophic Words: A Study of Style and
Meaning in the Rambler and the Dictionary of Samuel Johnson
(New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1948).
- Bertrand H. Bronson, "The Double Tradition of Dr. Johnson,"
ELH, 18 (June 1951), 90-106; reprinted in Clifford's
- Maurice Quinlan, Samuel Johnson: A Layman's Religion
(Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1964).
- Jean H. Hagstrum, Samuel Johnson's Literary
Criticism, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1967).
The first edition appeared in 1952.
- Chester Chapin, The Religious Thought of Samuel
Johnson (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1968).
More Recent Studies
One other title worth mentioning is Edward Tomarken's
Commentary on the Selected Works of Samuel Johnson,
which, though not a comprehensive bibliography of criticism,
does a pretty good job of pointing out the major trends and
- Thomas M. Curley, Samuel Johnson and the Age of
Travel (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1976).
- Alvin Kernan, Printing, Technology, Letters, and Samuel
Johnson (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1987); reissued
in paperback in 1989 as Samuel Johnson and the Impact of
Print. A thought-provoking book, but one which sometimes
shows how should one put this? inadequate regard to
- Nicholas Hudson, Samuel Johnson and Eighteenth-Century
Thought (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988). The title promises more
than the book delivers, but with a title like that, it's
probably inevitable. Hudson examines Johnson's opinions on many
of the philosophical and (especially) theological disputes of
the eighteenth century.
- Allen Reddick, The Making of Johnson's Dictionary
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990). Reddick had access to
materials Sledd and Kolb couldn't see, and meticulously pieces
together the story of how Johnson assembled his
Dictionary, both the first and fourth editions.
This is part of a Guide to Samuel
Johnson by Jack Lynch. Comments are welcome.