Samuel Johnson

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Johnson, Samuel,

1696–1772, American clergyman, educator, and philosopher, b. Guilford, Conn., grad. Collegiate School (now Yale), 1714; father of William Samuel JohnsonJohnson, William Samuel,
1727–1819, American political leader and president of Columbia College (1787–1800), b. Stratford, Conn. A lawyer in Connecticut, he soon became a leading figure in the colony, serving as a member of the lower house and in the governor's
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. He became a Congregationalist minister, but in 1722 joined the Church of England. In 1724 he opened the first Anglican church in Connecticut at Stratford, remaining its minister until 1754, when he became the first president of an Anglican institution, King's College (now Columbia), in New York City. He resigned in 1763 to return to Stratford. A friend and correspondent of the English philosopher George BerkeleyBerkeley, George
, 1685–1753, Anglo-Irish philosopher and clergyman, b. Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he became a scholar and later a fellow there. Most of Berkeley's important work in philosophy was done in his younger years.
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, Johnson became the principal exponent in America of Berkeleian idealism. His chief work was Ethica (1746), republished in an enlarged edition by Benjamin Franklin as Elementa Philosophica (1752).

Bibliography

See H. and C. Schneider, ed., Samuel Johnson … His Career and His Writings (4 vol., 1929, repr. 1972); B. Redford, ed., The Letters of Samuel Johnson (2 vol., 1994); biography by E. L. Pennington (1938); study by J. J. Ellis (1973).


Johnson, Samuel,

1709–84, English author, b. Lichfield. The leading literary scholar and critic of his time, Johnson helped to shape and define the Augustan Age. He was equally celebrated for his brilliant and witty conversation. His rather gross appearance and manners were viewed tolerantly, if not with a certain admiration.

Early Life and Works

The son of a bookseller, Johnson excelled at school in spite of illness (he suffered the effects of scrofula throughout his life) and poverty. He entered Oxford in 1728 but was forced to leave after a year for lack of funds. He sustained himself as a bookseller and schoolmaster for the next six years, during which he continued his wide reading and published some translations. In 1735 he married Elizabeth Porter, a widow 20 years his senior, and remained devoted to her until her death in 1752.

Johnson settled in London in 1737 and began his literary career in earnest. At first he wrote primarily for Edward Cave's Gentleman's Magazine—poetry and prose on subjects literary and political. His poem "London," published anonymously in 1738, was praised by Pope and won Johnson recognition in literary circles. His Life of Savage (1744) is a bitter portrait of corruption in London and the miseries endured by writers. Also of note are his long poem The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) and his essays in the periodical The Rambler (1750–52).

Later Life and Works

Johnson's first work of lasting importance, and the one that permanently established his reputation in his own time, was his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), the first comprehensive lexicographical work on English ever undertaken. Rasselas, a moral romance, appeared in 1759, and The Idler, a collection of his essays, in 1761. Although Johnson enjoyed great literary acclaim, he remained close to poverty until a government pension was granted to him in 1762. The following year was marked by his meeting with James BoswellBoswell, James,
1740–95, Scottish author, b. Edinburgh; son of a distinguished judge. At his father's insistence the young Boswell reluctantly studied law. Admitted to the bar in 1766, he practiced throughout his life, but his true interest was in a literary career and in
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, whose famous biography (1791) presents Johnson in exhaustive and fascinating detail, often recreating his conversations verbatim.

In 1764 Johnson and Sir Joshua ReynoldsReynolds, Sir Joshua,
1723–92, English portrait painter, b. Devonshire. Long considered historically the most important of England's painters, by his learned example he raised the artist to a position of respect in England.
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 founded "The Club" (known later as The Literary Club). Its membership included Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, David Garrick, Adam Smith, and Boswell. The brilliance of this intellectual elite was, reportedly, dazzling, and Dr. Johnson (he had received a degree in 1764) was its leading light. His witty remarks are remembered to this day. He was a master not only of the aphorism—e.g., his definition of angling as "a stick and a string, with a worm on one end and a fool on the other"—but also of the quick, unexpected retort, as when, while listening with displeasure to a violinist, he was told that the feat being performed was very difficult: "Difficult," replied Johnson, "I wish it had been impossible!"

In 1765 Johnson met Henry and Hester ThraleThrale, Hester Lynch,
later Mrs. Piozzi
, 1741–1821, Englishwoman, noted for her intimate friendship with Samuel Johnson. Daughter of John Salusbury, she married (1763) Henry Thrale, a wealthy brewer, whose home at Streatham became a gathering place for writers
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, whose friendship and hospitality he enjoyed until Thrale's death and Mrs. Thrale's remarriage. In that same year Johnson's long-heralded edition of Shakespeare appeared. Its editorial principles served as a model for future editions, and its preface and critical notes are still highly valued. In the 1770s Johnson wrote a series of Tory pamphlets. His political conservatism was based upon a profound skepticism as to the perfectibility of human nature. Although personally generous and compassionate, he held that a strict social order is necessary to save humanity from itself.

In 1773 he toured the Hebrides with Boswell and published his account of the tour in 1775. Johnson's Lives of the Poets (1779–1781), his last major work, comprises ten small volumes of acute criticism, characterized, as is all of Johnson's work, by both classical values and sensitive perception. Dr. Johnson, as he is universally known, was England's first full-dress man of letters, and his mind and personality helped to create the traditions that have guided English taste and criticism.

Bibliography

See R. DeMaria, Jr., and G. J. Kolb, ed., Johnson on the English Language (2005). Besides the classic biography by Boswell, see biographies by Sir John Hawkins (1787; ed. by B. Davis, 1961; ed. by O. M. Brack, Jr., 2009), J. W. Krutch (1944), J. L. Clifford (1955), W. J. Bate (1977), D. Greene (upd. ed. 1989), R. DeMaria, Jr. (1993), P. Martin (2008), J. Meyers (2008), and D. Nokes (2009); critical studies by W. J. Bate (1955), R. B. Schwartz (1971), P. Quennell (1973), J. T. Boulton, ed. (1978), P. Fussell (1986), N. Hudson (1988), D. Greene (2d ed., 1990), and G. S. Gross (1992); H. Hitchings, Defining the World (2005), and L. Damrosch, The Club: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age (2019); J. L. Clifford, Johnsonian Studies, 1887–1950 (1951; supplement, 1962), J. L. Clifford and D. J. Greene, A Survey and Bibliography of Critical Studies (1970), D. Greene and J. A. Vance, Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1970–1985 (1987), and J. Lynch, Bibliography of Johnsonian Studies, 1986–1998 (2000).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Johnson, Samuel

 

Born Sept. 18, 1709, in Lichfield; died Dec. 13, 1784, in London. English critic, lexicographer, essayist, and poet.

In his philosophical novella Rasselas (1759; Russian translation, 1795), Johnson explores the dichotomy between the pursuit of happiness and the possibility of its actual attainment. His Dictionary of the English Language (1755) was a valuable addition to linguistic studies of the period. His foreword to an edition of Shakespeare (1765) and his book Lives of the English Poets (1779-81) were important contributions to the development of English literary criticism. His friend J. Boswell colorfully depicted Johnson in The Life of Samuel Johnson (1792).

WORKS

The Works, vols. 1-12. London, 1801.
Works, vols. 1-16. New York, 1903.
A Dictionary of the English Language, new edition. London, 1883. Lives of the English Poets, vols. 1-2. London-Toronto-New York [1925].

REFERENCES

Istoriia angliiskoi literdtury, vol. 1, issue 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.
Boswell, J. The Life of Samuel Johnson, vols. 1-3. London, 1938.
Bate, W. J. Achievement of SamuelJohnson. New York, 1955.
Courtney, W. P. A Bibliography of Samuel Johnson. Oxford, 1925.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Johnson, Samuel

(1709–1784) literary scholar, creator of first comprehensive lexicographical work of English. [Br. Hist.: EB, V: 591]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Johnson, Samuel

(1822–82) Protestant religious leader, author; born in Salem, Mass. A physician's son, he graduated from Harvard and Harvard Divinity School, and in collaboration with a friend, he published a hymnal in 1848. Initially a Unitarian, he became minister of the Free Church in Lynn, Mass. He opposed slavery, was a mystic and poet, and in the 1870s he published a series of scholarly studies of Oriental religions.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Norris, but that he understood and "liked" the character of Fanny in the way he might like a real person, in the Johnsonian sense--but, of course, Henry's "liking" of Fanny Price might also mean "liking" her the way he "liked" Mrs.
The Johnsonian sense of pleasure as the final judge was based on the common sense and reason of his reading public and gives no just place to creative imagination as a faculty of human mind in judiciously selecting and combining various elements and events of life in order to achieve dramatic effects on the stage.
To be clear, I am not saying that Connolly's preferred self is the same as the Johnsonian self, but rather that Connolly's self is (perhaps) insufficiently defined enough (because that would fix it, reify it) to fully resist the temptations offered by the New Cheese version of radical self-creation.
He knew enough Johnsonian and Piozzi literature that he seemed to move easily as an equal.
Moore, whose "sentences," Bishop says, "were Johnsonian in weight and balance.
(27) He was 'Johnsonian' not only in conversational style--the Johnson who said: 'Well, we had a good talk', to which Boswell replied: 'Yes, sir, you tossed and gored several persons'.
Martin places religion as the last and greatest Johnsonian contradiction: "Ironically, his extraordinary religious faith deepened his fears.
(7) George Birkbeck Hill, ed., Johnsonian Miscellanies, 2 vols.
The work, which has come to widen the range of Johnsonian works in Spanish, will surely have drawn the attention of those concerned with the European Enlightenment and travel narratives alike.
Best, Personal and Literary Memorials, London, 1829, printed in Johnsonian Miscellanies Vol.
It's the classic Miesian/ Johnsonian pavilion in the landscape, but with a twist.
Now aged 90, Arnold-Baker has lived most of his adult life in a Johnsonian garret in London's Inner Temple, where he holds the title senior barrister: 'I am not quite sure why,' he confesses.