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1. Dr. Johnson's Works: Life, Poems,
2. The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume
3. The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin
4. Selected Essays (Penguin Classics)
5. Samuel Johnson: The Major Works
6. Samuel Johnson: The Struggle
7. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections
8. A Dictionary of the English Language:
9. Samuel Johnson and the Life of
10. Samuel Johnson
11. Journey to the Hebrides: A Journey
12. Samuel Johnson Is Indignant: Stories
13. Samuel Johnson: Selected Writings
14. Life and Conversations of Dr.
15. Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson
16. The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia:
17. Life of Johnson (Oxford World's
18. Samuel Johnson: Selected Poetry
19. A dictionary of the English language
20. Lives of the Poets, Volume 1

1. Dr. Johnson's Works: Life, Poems, and Tales, Volume 1 - The Works of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D., in Nine Volumes
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 322 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003XVZL7K
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Dr. Johnson's Works: Life, Poems, and Tales, Volume 1 - The Works of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D., in Nine Volumes is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Samuel Johnson is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Samuel Johnson then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

2. The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume 03 - The Rambler, Volume II
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 292 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003VTY0P8
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume 03 - The Rambler, Volume II is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Samuel Johnson is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Samuel Johnson then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

3. The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin Classics)
by James Boswell
Paperback: 1408 Pages (2008-11-19)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$12.16
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Asin: 0140436626
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The most complete edition ever published of the iconic Biography

WIDELY REGARDED as the finest literary biography ever published, James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson reveals a man of outsized appetites and private vulnerabilities, and is the source of much of what we know about one of the towering figures of English literature. This new edition collates and corrects the textual inaccuracies of previous versions, returning to the original manuscript in order to present a definitive edition of this landmark text. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars great bed-time reading
I don't know if this is a good thing to admit or not, but I made it through this entire book reading it about 5-10 minutes per night just before nodding off.

Normally I would never a proceed through such a highly-regarded classic like this, but Boswell jumps from topic to topic so frequently, it's almost like each new paragraph is about an entirely different subject.I suppose this would have irked me had I approached this in a focused, solitary way, but as it was it made it possible get through one nugget at a time.

Maybe you should try it.I know of few who have managed to negotiate this one conventionally.

Anyhow, more to the point.If you're fishing around for a good edition, I would definitely go with this Penguin Classics edition, which has copious footnotes and some other stuff.The other one you see everywhere, the Oxford World's Classics has -- unusually for that series -- zilch for footnotes!

3-0 out of 5 stars Labor of Love
Samuel Johnson was not only a master of the English language, but also one of the dominant intellectuals in an age dominated by intellectuals:Adam Smith, Walter Scott, and Edmund Burke were all his contemporaries and acquaintances.I began reading this 1,200 page biography of Samuel Johnson because I thought it'd be an introduction to that very special intellectual period in Western history.I eagerly anticipated the long overflowing and intense debates between Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, who in my opinion as well as Mr. Johnson's (who when slightly ill had to cancel an appointment to see Burke because Johnson felt he needed to be at the top of his intellectual game to meet with Burke) was the most powerful rhetorician of that age.We are not witness to those salon debates (there is an interesting anecdote where the King of England surprises Samuel Johnson as he is reading in the royal library).Instead, the majority of the book is dedicated to either the conversations or the epistles between devoted pupil (James Boswell) and stern teacher (Samuel Johnson).This work is a labor of love, as the eager student tries to weave into eternity the memory and words of his great teacher.

James Boswell does not have a gift for writing as is so obvious in Samuel Johnson and Edmund Burke, and Johnson is not an interesting and sympathetic figure (unless you happen to like strict Royalist headmasters), and I found it hard to read this book.I'm sure that the book was much celebrated when it came out, as the reading public was interested in the gossip and conversations of the literary luminaries of the age.But this book simply does not survive the passing of time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Greatest Biography Ever
James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson is often called the greatest biography of all-time and may well be. Perhaps such a work can get no higher praise, but it is also highly notable as the first true modern biography - the first really resembling what we think of as biography today. Boswell set new standards for thoroughness, accuracy, and research, greatly expanding the very concept of what a biography could be. He was also very far ahead of his time in anticipating what was later called gonzo journalism - writers inserting themselves into real-life stories; it is of course not done in the same way as later writers, but the concept is similar. Most remarkable of all, though, is that the book is immensely readable, entertaining, and edifying over two hundred years later, which can be said of very few biographies. It is absolutely essential for anyone even remotely interested in Johnson, Boswell, or the late eighteenth century European intellectual circle.

Johnson was perhaps England's best known writer during his last several decades and one of the most famous in the world besides being widely known and renowned for lexicographical and other accomplishments. However, this book's greatness and fame are such that he has long been known primarily via it. Many read it who have read very little or none of him, showing that, unlike nearly all biographies, it has earned a life of its own. There are many reasons for this, not least the fine writing. Even more fundamental is that the book vividly brings an exciting, integral, and profoundly influential era to life. It covers the late Enlightenment when many of the most important people to ever live were prominent. In addition to Johnson, we get first-hand glimpses of such illustrious personages as Adam Smith, Oliver Goldsmith, Pasquale Paoli, David Garrick, and many, many others. Numerous other heavyweights - Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, King George III, etc. - are only slightly in the background. We also get contemporaneous accounts of major events like the American Revolution and the lead up to the French Revolution. In short, though ostensibly the biography of one person, the book is as vibrant, lifelike, and memorable an account of a supremely important era as any history book.

Yet Johnson is always the focus, shown literally from birth to death. Anyone interested in him will find a wealth of information about all aspects of his life as well as his thoughts, feelings, influences, intellectual background, and far more. There is also a great deal of information about his work. Unlike nearly all biographers, Boswell actually knew Johnson well; he was his friend for many years and spent several months annually in his company, essentially interviewing him and making voluminous notes of his conversation. This last is indeed the book's heart and by far its most famous element. Johnson was perhaps his era's most famous conversationalist, revered for wit and argument; Boswell heard many hours of his conversation and reports faithfully. His style here was again innovative. Rather than sprinkling isolated quotes anecdotally, he went to great pains to reproduce full conversations, not only describing the setting and others present but even using drama-like name headings for full verisimilitude. We thus not only see what Johnson said but where, how, and usually why he said it. Many world famous Johnson sayings that would otherwise be lost - i.e., "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - are immortalized here, as well as some quotes by others. This alone would make the book of great value.

Much has been made of how Boswell's presence affected this; knowing he would write the biography, or at least thinking it possible, he undoubtedly orchestrated much, drawing Johnson out when he might have otherwise been silent. Much of this would have been done in any case as he clearly admired Johnson and loved his talk, but there is no denying the question's importance. Some have condemned Boswell as a shameless celebrity whore or otherwise questioned his motives and veracity, but nearly everyone will consider this nitpicking, fascinating as the question is. For nearly everyone, it makes the book better - far more personal and engaging than biographies are usually even capable of being. Also, for what it is worth, such things mean the book in many ways tells us nearly as much about Boswell as Johnson, making it a sort of hybrid biography/autobiography.

Boswell understandably focuses on the years he knew Johnson, meaning the book is greatly lopsided in favor of the later years after Johnson became famous and nearly all his major work was done. This will annoy those who want a more balanced overview, especially as Boswell makes short shrift of some important early events. Those wanting a more conventional balance should get one of several later biographies, especially as Boswell makes a few errors and, at least according to later sources, leaves out some highly interesting - if not necessarily essential - facts. He openly admits doing so at the start in order to protect Johnson's reputation, though much of what he says elsewhere is unflattering, but some of it may have been unknown to him. For most, though, this is the only Johnson biography that will ever be needed - and its greatness, influence, and importance are such that it is required for all readers with even the slightest interest in English and European literature and history and the art of biography even if they care little or nothing for Johnson or Boswell.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great read
James Boswell--to use a contemporary idiom-- had a mancrush on Samuel Johnson. He wrote this lengthy portrait of his hero--and it's magnificent. This is a vastly entertaining read. Full of fascinating, insightful, provocative, fun, sometimes gossipy detail, Boswell's Life of Johnson is a real treat. After ten pages, I was hooked. In writing his Life of Johnson, Boswell showed us all how fascinating a single man can be when studied in detail by a sympathetic reporter. I suspect that Boswell's Johnson is a much more interesting character than Johnson's Johnson, but that doesn't matter: Boswell's book is a separate creation and entity than Johnson the man. Boswell's hero worship and adulation is infectious. it is difficult not to wish Boswell success in pulling off this grand project: a 1,400 page portrait of a brilliant, admirable, great but flawed man. Get this. You are going to be entertained. Despite its enormous size, this is a fun, interesting, stimulating read. This is the perfect vacation book for anyone who prefers something with more intellectual meat than a thriller or mystery. Anglophiles MUST read this. Anyone who cares about great books should read it. And anyone looking for a book that has stood the test of time should read it. Simply because you will be denying yourself a great experience if you don't. I would definitely want this with me during a long convalescence--it would be a great companion.

5-0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL
If you have not read "Life of Johnson" you should do so.It is a wonderful work.This is a bit odd in that Johnson was not a great writer, nor did he engage in any
great historical event.Johnson's views on Slavery and the American Revolution are rational counterweights to the generalized view of the Revolution on this side of the Atlantic.Johnson knew everybody.So the bio is more than of Johnson, but about the grand and important personalities of his age.The writing could not be more clear.Boswell actually knew Johnson pretty well.His was not the only bio of Johnson written at the time, but the best.

Johnson is in some ways akin to Maimonides, the great Jewish Rabbi of the 13th century.The thinking is clear, with a minimum of dogma. ... Read more

4. Selected Essays (Penguin Classics)
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 576 Pages (2003-04-29)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$9.80
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Asin: 0140436278
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sam Johnson: Classicism Mixed with Pragmatism
Samuel Johnson was a writer in the classical mode; one who believed that literature must follow a pre-programmed set of recognized texts and subtexts that pointed toward the reader's accepting the morality of the work as an accepted good and pleasing that reader at the same time.Johnson's education in the classics well prepared him to internalize the notion that literature and art by themselves were incomplete aspects of the learner unless that learner could teach others of the benefits accruing from their close study.Despite his adherence to eighteenth century classicism, Johnson was not an inflexible ideologue.He could appreciate that there were fixed attributes to taste that were universal--at least to upper class English society then--but he could also see that differences in individual reaction to that taste might vary enormously, and not always in a positive way.Johnson was quick to pounce on those who posed as exemplars of decorum but in his opinion did little more than use sham and quackery to undermine that decorum.

Of his two periodicals, published several years apart, it is in the Rambler that Johnson is at his most conventionally moral and didactic.Very few of the more than two hundred essays are light, folksy, and airy.The vast majority deals with numerous variations of Johnson's favorite theme--that human beings are forever locked in a ceaseless struggle for the material things in life: money, power, beauty, and material possessions.When men and women are so driven to acquire what he saw as ephemeral baubles that they risk losing their immortal souls, then Johnson saw it as his bounden duty to lecture them about abandoning this mad pursuit.Writing from the lectern of his periodical, he saw no room for levity.His morality then was one of a deadening seriousness, based on his perception that it had to be viewed through the prism of individual character rather than the collective weight of sanctioned culture.In Essay # 134, Johnson considers the deleterious effects that idleness has on the human mind.This essay is a straightforward lecture on the evils of procrastination, a flaw that inheres within the breasts of all people.In the remainder of his essays that lecture the reader on How to Behave, one gets the feeling that each individual flaw is a stain on humanity that flows directly from Adam's original transgression.In addition to his lessons on conduct, Johnson also taught literary criticism.The first four essays of the Rambler relate to theories of writing that he felt sure were of vital necessity for his readers to know.In Essay # 4, he points out the potential for harm that careless novelists might unwittingly inflict on the unwary.Regardless of the topic, Johnson felt comfortable using a prose style that his critics referred to as ponderous but he saw as the height of proper writing.Since he was taught that classical writing was synonymous with using an infinity of Latinate expressions, inversions, and antithesis, it came as no surprise to anyone who knew him that the essays of the Rambler were pithy expressions of a philosophy that was not limited to men like Samuel Johnson.

By the time that Johnson was led by financial need to pick up the essayist's pen as the writer and editor of the Idler, he was ready to make some revisions in his adherence to the classical mode of writing.He was only all too aware of popular resentment by his readers toward his beloved means of writing.The bottom line of profit once again in the world of business would cause its players to modify some long treasured beliefs.Much reduced was Johnson's ornate and Latinate mode of expression.He also knew that his readers had tired of his incessant hectoring on the eternal flaws within the human breast.Though he would not totally abandon his search for the infelicitous in the human condition, he lowered his comfort zone of classical acceptance to include a number of lighter and more informal themes.Readers from the previous generation of the Spectator and the Tatler seemed to enjoy the personal and humorous comments of critics who could poke holes in the inflated egos of those who insisted that sham and reality were identical.Johnson resurrected Addison and Steele's technique of giving a name to a critic or even to a commentator on society who had something witty and germane to say.Johnson used names like Dick Minim and Mr. Sober as literary lightning rods to attract the interest of readers who might otherwise have shunned the journal.Johnson was astute enough to recognize that his readers would easily see through the sham of using made up names to hide his own true identity, thus generating ongoing sales.Yet, Johnson could not completely disassociate himself from his classic roots.As with the Rambler, he used the Idler as an occasional forum to transmit his views on matters literary.The Idler, then, emerges as a mixed bag and ill-defined hodgepodge of classicism and hard-nosed pragmatism.The more that Samuel Johnson lowered art from its previously unquestioned position as the very deification of the human condition, the less conventional the entire concept of writing and literature came to be seen.In his two year tenure as the driving force behind the Idler, Samuel Johnson is now seen as a transitional figure between the logic and decorum of the Augustan Age and the encroaching sentimentalism and commonality of the Pre-Romantics.

5-0 out of 5 stars Share the wisdom of Dr. Samuel Johnson in this Penguin collection of his periodical essays
Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-84) was a prolific author during the Augustan Age of English Literature. He is best known for his English Dictionary of the English Language published in 1755 and his biography written by his Scottish friend James Boswell.
Penguin has taken essays Johnson wrote in the 1750-1760 period which he wrote for periodicals named: The Rambler, The Adventurer and the Idler.
Johnson's style is difficult for a modern reader to peruse. He often quotes the ancients, his sentences are labyrinthal and he can be repetitive in what information or thoughts he is sharing.
Nevertheless, the reader admires and learns from Johnson who was a man of immense learning. He discusses such topics as: Reading, Marriage, Solittude, Virtue, Stagecoach Travel, British soldiery, political affairs, Sleep, Idleness, Vanity, the fears we all have of death and the joy of Christian salvation.
This is a collection that will require time and effort but it does yield its rewards of wisdom and sage advice from a giant of English literature.

3-0 out of 5 stars Chesterton, G. K., Selected Essays, Orthodoxy, and the Everlasting Man.
On Selected Essays, what a vocabulary! What lengthy sentences! Very dated in written form but very up to date in observations. My written notes were not long, but the book is long!
The Everlasting Man and Orthodoxy were most interesting for an understanding of classic Christianity and the notes that I took are most appropriate as to the impact of modern thinking on Classic Christianity is concerned. Chesterton is right on target and extremely knowledgeable, having read practically everything up to his time. A good threesome, well balanced.

5-0 out of 5 stars No blockhead 'he'. Was the 'talker' superior to the 'writer'?
The great range of his interests, the complex classical balance of his sentences, the passion and forcefulness in which he justifies his tastes, the sense of authority and integrity which radiate from the page- all these are elements which make Johnson's essays of great possible interest to those who can endure the difficulty of understanding such complexity, and the discomfort of being in the presence of so forceful a personality. He wrote these essays for the 'Spectator', the 'Rambler' and he was apparently paid well- enough for them to avoid being considered a blockhead.
Yet how strange and paradoxical that it is not for these 'Essays'( in which he too discusses the subject of Literary Fame) but for the portrait of him made by another writer( Boswell in the 'Life) that he most lives in our minds and hearts. ... Read more

5. Samuel Johnson: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics)
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 880 Pages (2009-04-15)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$10.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0199538336
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Samuel Johnson's literary reputation rests on such a varied output that he defies easy description: poet, critic, lexicographer, travel writer, essayist, editor, and, thanks to his good friend Boswell, the subject of one of the most famous English biographies.

This volume celebrates Johnson's astonishing talent by selecting widely across the full range of his work.It includes "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes" among other poems, and many of his essays for the Rambler and Idler. The prefaces to his edition of Shakespeare and his famous Dictionary, together with samples from the texts, are given, as well as selections from A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, the Lives of the Poets, and Rasselas in its entirety. There is also a substantial representation of lesser-known prose, and of his poetry, letters, and journals.

This edition represents the single most comprehensive anthology of Johnson's works.With a new, modern package this is an invaluble classic to add to your collection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good stuffitallin to a brick book, hard as a reference
There are reasons for getting hardback copies of these books - you don't break the spine at your first perusal for a start. And they don't push the page margins and typeface to the point that you need those special glasses and thin thumbs just to read it. These comments apply to this paperback only.

As to the content, you will find many of your favourites here, truncated sometimes for no reasons apparent, and mixed with quotidia of interest only to Johnsonian scholars. The Index is a mess, and the Contents Table will have you breaking the spine even more.

I would condemn it to Kindle/IPad, except that neither could produce a search engine sophisticated enough to understand the nuance and intelligence behind his simple prattle.

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this edition!Missing pages!
Great book, but there is an edition problem where there are pages missing.I got 2 copies, same problem.They promised that they wouldn't charge, and they have.This sucks!

5-0 out of 5 stars The One to Buy
This is the anthology to buy.Mona Wilson's collection from 1963 is also good, but the texts are less certain.Greene's annotations and bibliography are expert.He was the leading student of Johnson in the 20th century (after, he would say, his mentor James Clifford).I agree with Frank Lynch that it would be preferable to have the entire Journey here, but it is readily available elsewhere and students will find it very convenient to see some of Johnson's little-known but very important works (his life of Boerhaave, e.g. and his Sermon #5) available in this large but relatively inexpensive anthology.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Joy of Reading Johnson
The case of Dr. Johnson is a strange one. On the one hand, the extent of his achievements, the magnetism of his personality, and the sheer strength of his genius has forever secured him a place among the literary giants of all ages. On the other hand, Time seems to have both granted him fame and deprived him of readers. Nowadays, when people want Dr. Johnson, they go straight to James Boswell. The man has sadly overshadowed the author; and Samuel Johnson is not as much read as he is quoted, nor as closely appreciated as he is admired from afar. Indeed, his works fit Mark Twain's definition of a classic: "A book which people praise and don't read".

And that is a shame, since, as this book amply proves, Samuel Johnson is one of the best and most delightful writers the world has ever seen. He is deep in meaning, and felicitous in expression; never dull, always memorable. As the man himself, his prose has a fascinating quality to it: his architecturally built sentences expand for what sometimes feels like forever, linking up ideas and images, until a sudden burst of energy condenses the whole paragraph into a brilliant aphorism. Each phrase is balanced to perfection. Whenever obscure, Johnson usually illustrates his words with exact allusions, metaphors and similes; he particularly relishes in three-folded tropes: "To a community, sedition is a fever, corruption a gangrene, and idleness an atrophy" (pg 285); "In the bottle discontent seeks for comfort, cowardice for courage, and bashfulness for confidence" (pg 664). His acute and eminently quotable observations, whether about learned matters ("Notes are often necessary, but a necessary evil") or about human nature in general ("Many complain of neglect who never tried to attract regard ") are to be found throughout his whole oeuvre.

However, as painstakingly constructed as his writings might appear to be, the incredible truth is that he wrote many of them as he went along, without even reading them over, prodded by deadlines and debts. Johnson admitted having sometimes written half an essay on the spot, sent it to the presses, and finished the second half as the first half was being printed. He wrote his only novel, Rasselas, in the evenings of a week, and the first 48 pages of his wonderful Life of Savage in a sitting. ("But then again, I sat all night".) That nervous energy can be felt even in his calmer passages, lurking in between the lines, waiting for the inevitable outburst of indignation or angry disapproval to be released.

Regarding this edition, it is by far the best one-volume anthology of Johnson's works now available. It's biggest defect, in fact, consists merely in its inappropriate title: the very prologue happily admits the book is a wide-ranging sampling of Johnson's output and not just his "Major Works". Oxford just decided to re-name the anthology without touching the content, which explains why it still proudly includes Latin School exercises, extemporary verses, pieces "printed in full for the first time" and "lesser-known works". While I would have preferred having fewer, yet more complete pieces, the selection at least feels fresh and does not leave out any of Johnson's must-haves: his poetry (which, although often overlooked, has been praised by authors such as TS Eliot and Bloom), his timeless essays and remarkable biographies, the Preface to his Dictionary (of which some facsimile pages are included), the Preface to his edition of Shakespeare's plays (surely one of the best-written and most lucid examples of literary criticism ever published), Rasselas unabridged, and a few of his Lives of the Poets -which are, of course, quintessential Johnson. In other words, this book is a perfect introduction to those who are new to the author, and even the most avid Johnsonian will find in it something he has never read before, or an excuse to reread something he already knows by heart.

Samuel Johnson is someone towards whom one can feel many things, but not indifference. Hazlitt detested him and decried the "periodical revolution of his style", that search for equilibrium which often made Johnson turn from high praise to stern criticism in the blink of an eye; Carlyle crowned him "the Hero of the Man of Letters". It seems that people must either love the Doctor's elegance, or hate his pompous use of polysyllabic and Latinate words; either exalt his discernment, or deplore his intolerance. I am no exception to the rule. Simply put, I think reading Johnson means enjoying most of the pleasures Literature can give. That is why I consider he deserves more than our mere admiration: he deserves to be read. Certainly Samuel Johnson's achievements alone would make him remembered, but it's his writings that make him unforgettable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beef Up Your English
OK, I'll admit it... When I dropped out of high school at the tender age of 14 for a career of glue-sniffing and joy-riding round the graffiti-sprayed council estates of my native Irvine, I was a 'seven-stone weakling' in terms of using the English language.

Brought up on a diet of comic books, tabloid newspapers, and football magazines (Shoot, Match Weekly, etc) and 'educated' in a Socialist-inspired 'comprehensive' school, I wasn't really equipped for my future career as an international journalist. But then something very strange and bewitching happened - I discovered 'THE DOCTOR,' as we acolytes refer to him, and started mentally working out on his long, finely wrought sentences.

At first, each seemingly interminable sentence was like trying to swim the English Channel - I thought I would drown before reaching the other end - but, somehow, I survived and found myself on dry land, confused and wet, but nevertheless alive and raring to have another go.

In the months that followed, the good doctor's erudite style became Mother's milk to me as I progressively beefed up my English. This enabled me to grab a place at the prestigious university of Thames Polytechnic and, then, on graduation, to a career writing for a wide range of excellent publications, including Riff Raff, Tokyo Notice Board, and the Wall Street Journal.

The great thing about THE DOCTOR's prose is that he uses a disproportionate number of abstract nouns, which means you have to mentally provide your own examples. At first this can be extremely challenging, but if you stick with it, your brain will become, as mine has, a potent and expressive tool.

... Read more

6. Samuel Johnson: The Struggle
by Jeffrey Meyers
Hardcover: 552 Pages (2008-12-01)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$3.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002ECEW2O
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Ford Madox Ford declared Samuel Johnson “the most tragic of all our major literary figures.” Blessed with a formidable intellect and a burning passion for ideas, Johnson also struggled throughout his life with mental instability and numerous physical defects. One of the most illustrious figures of the English literary tradition, Johnson made his fame as poet, essayist, critic, dictionary-maker, conversationalist, and all-around larger-than-life personality. His success was all the greater for the adversity he had to overcome in achieving it.

Drawing on a lifetime of study of Johnson and his era, as well as a wide array of new archival materials, noted biographer Jeffrey Meyers tells the extraordinary story of one of the great geniuses of English letters. Johnson emerges in his portrait as a mass of contradictions: lazy and energetic, aggressive and tender, melancholy and witty, comforted yet tormented by religion. He was physically repulsive and slovenly in dress and habits, but his social ideas were progressive and humane—he strongly opposed slavery and the imperial exploitation of indigenous peoples. He gave generously to the poor and homeless, rescued prostitutes, and defended criminals who’d been condemned to hang. But these charitable acts could not dispel the darkness that clouded his world: overwhelming guilt and fear of eternal damnation.

A masterful portrait of a brilliant and tormented figure, this book reintroduces a new generation of readers to the heroic Dr. Johnson.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars Pundit's Progress
When reviewing a biography such as this one, it seems to me that two questions have to be asked - and answered: 1.) Does the biographer give an accurate and readable account of his subject? 2.) Is the subject himself worth bothering about?

Meyers - though his account has many factual flaws, pointed out by another reviewer here - does what I consider to be all too good a job of presenting the atrabilious lexicographer to those unfamiliar with him, his works or Boswell's Life, or even to those, such as I, who studied him in graduate school, from cradle to grave. So, on the first question, point, to Meyers.

The second question is the more tortured one.I have never fancied Johnson, anything about him.Boswell's Life is the only readable thing concerning him because Boswell is always winking at the reader, so to speak, as if to say: "Look at this pompous, ill-natured homme de lettres whose company I'm enduring for the sake of posterity."Boswell is sharp and wily. Johnson is, unfortunately, Johnson.I suppose Johnsonian scholarship still suffers from the divide of "Boswellians" and "anti-Boswellians" that it did back in the day.I wouldn't know, not having followed the progress of the tempest in a teapot known as Johnsonian scholarship for years.I purchased and read this biography to see if - over the gulf of years - my take on Johnson had changed.After reading Meyers's biography, I have assured myself that it most assuredly has changed, much for the worse.

Reader, if you want to thoroughly enter into the world of a physical and intellectual bully, a man who feared life itself, a man who clung to religion so thoroughly only out of fear, a man whose psychopathic nature was almost entirely unleavened by anything truly endearing about him, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, please spare yourself the anguish of reading about him.

Meyers says: "Ever since the Romantic period, our culture has valued imagination and associated it with creativity and innovation.But Johnson saw it as a perilous path to insanity, and his unwillingness to release his imaginative powers in Rasselas explains his inability to write convincing fiction." To which I would only add: What imaginative powers?I truly don't think that the "Great Cham" had any such powers to release, only tiresome moralistic platitudes.

So, a competent biography, a loathsome subject.Johnsonians, you may have at me.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of a great man of letters
Dr. Samuel Johnson deserves to be called a larger-than-life personality.Johnson was a man of many contrasts and these are exactly the things that make him the ideal man for this wonderful biography,written by Jefferey Meyers.
Johnson was half-deaf and half-blind.He was both energetic and lazy ,aggressive yet tender.He suffered from bouts of melancholy (or what one would call "The Black Dog" -a term used by the great Churchill who was himself victim of this sort of depression)but waas also wiity and full of energy and zest for life.Johnson was extremely curious about anything and was generous to the poor and the homeless.He rescued prostitutes,defended condemned criminals and was against slavery ot the exploitation of indigenious peoples.Despite his mental and physical handicaps,Dr. Johnson became famous as poet,novelist,biographer, essayist,critic, editor and lexicographer.All his lifeto his last breath was a struggle-thus the subtitle of the book.Indolent and sloppy, he experienced humiliating povery at Oxford and left without a degree.At an older age he got married to a much older woman and after her death,he remained celibate for more than thirty years.He gave generously to homeless children and beggars,and also secured clothes for French prisoners of war.He saw life as an endless contest.This showed also in the way he battled from book to book and struggled against formidable obstructions.His violence and surprising athletic feats were essential outlets for his frustration,his anger and his sexual passion.He always enjoyed a fight.
This biography offers new interpretations of Johnson's life and works.Johnson's two monumental projects, the Dictionary of the English Language and his eight-volume edition of Shakespeare's plays had occupied him for twenty years.
Meyers is extremely good and generous when describing Johnson's friends in London-among them Burke,Gibbon,Sir Reynolds,Boswell,the actor Garrick and Oliver Smith.
Boswell, for example, shaped Johnson's life by luring him to Scotland.When in France, Johnson somehow admired the French but eventually came to the conclusion that"there is no happy middle state as in England".After he returned to London he wrote that"the French have a clear air and a fruitful soil,but their mode of common life is gross,and incommodious, and disgusting.In short, he confirmed his belief in the superiority of the English.
Johnson also wrote about famous English poets, among them:Milton,Pope,Dryden and Swift.He took care to deliniate each poet's character and express authorittative judgement onn his poetry.Of "Paradise Lost" he wrote:"None ever wished it longer than it is".
This biography merits five points because it is written in a dynamic and interesting style,serious yey light, and the reader will get a panoramic picture not only of Johnson but also about the events and personalities and the common people that were part of the eighteenth century- one which considered among the best literary epoch of the English language.Highly recommended for the intelligent and curious reader,this biography will be the authoritataive one for years to come.

4-0 out of 5 stars Readable Though Factually Flawed
This is a readable and entertaining biography of Samuel Johnson.It is well written and expertly organized.As with other Meyers biographies, however, the research is sometimes sloppy.I suspect that Meyers does not do all his research himself but farms it out to others who are not that knowledgeable in the field.This results in the kinds of factual errors that crop up in this volume.I'll cite just two examples.

Meyers writes on page 293 that James Boswell met Johnson "in the back room of Tom Davies' bookshop at 8 Great Russell Street, near what is now the British Museum."The problem is, Davies' bookshop was not in GREAT Russell Street near the British Museum, but in Russell Street, Covent Garden--similar names but entirely different streets about half a mile apart.

On page 441 Meyers states that Johnson is buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey under Shakespeare's monument, "[David] Garrick at his right hand and [Oliver] Goldsmith just opposite."But Goldsmith is not buried in Westminster Abbey.He is buried in the Temple, just off Fleet Street, near the north-east side of Temple Church, under a white, weather-worn stone, shaped like a coffin lid.The stone bears the inscription "Here lies Oliver Goldsmith."

In the Poets' Corner hangs a memorial tablet and portrait of Goldsmith executed in marble by Joseph Nollekens and containing an inscription in Latin by Johnson.Sir Joshua Reynolds had the memorial placed above the door leading into St. Faith's Chapel, opposite to where Johnson and Garrick are buried.This cenotaph might lead the unsuspecting to think Goldsmith buried nearby, but he isn't.

3-0 out of 5 stars a readable bio of man of letters
Samuel Johnson was as unlikely a man to gain a major foothold in literary history as could be imagined - his flaws outnumbered his virtues-his intelligence overcompensated for his bad humour and bad habits

5-0 out of 5 stars A Supplement to a Brilliant Original
Samuel Johnson belongs to another age, but his biography by James Boswell will be with us for as long as people are interested in reading about other people.Johnson's literary hits, his poems, plays, and essays, were well known in their time, but are fairly well limited now to academic study only.His splendid dictionary is long out of date, though his lexicographic principles are still regarded as exemplary by editors of, say, _The Oxford English Dictionary_.But in Boswell's _Life of Johnson_ we have a memorable character, funny, brilliant, and quirky; it was the first biography that brought forth the subject's personality, and Johnson will live in it forever.Boswell's portrait, for all its depth and magnificence, didn't get everything in.As Jeffrey Meyers, a previous biographer of many literary characters, points out in _Samuel Johnson: The Struggle_ (Basic Books), Boswell only knew Johnson in the latter part of his life, and devotes only a fifth of his biography to Johnson's first fifty-five years.Boswell knew of Johnson's diaries, but barely got a glimpse of them.Boswell was frank about recording his own sexual details in his journals, and knew something of Johnson's sexual enthusiasm, but did not see fit to write about it.He also suppressed details about Johnson's use of profanity, his excesses in eating and drinking, and his lapses into a depression bordering on madness.He didn't know anything of Johnson's fondness for whips, chains, and padlocks to be used upon him sexually.Meyers knows all these things, and tells them, and the result is a detailed, sympathetic portrait that will, of course, never replace the original, but will deepen the appreciation of just how much of a struggle it was to be Samuel Johnson, and how successfully the struggle was waged.

Among Johnson's difficulties was that he was ugly; his face had been scarred by scrofula, which had also left him blind in one eye and deaf.He also had wriggling and obsessive movement.It is possible that he had Tourette's disorder.When William Hogarth first saw him at a distance, he "perceived a person standing at a window in the room, shaking his head, and rolling himself about in a strange ridiculous manner."Hogarth concluded that he was an idiot, and was astonished thereafter to be addressed by him with surpassing eloquence.It was the eloquence and literary brilliance, of course, that was to be the making of Johnson in London, but only after years of failing as a schoolmaster in his own home region.He took hack work at first, and his peculiar appearance and movements didn't make a difference in his capacity to write, and scholarly and illustrious talkers like Boswell, Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, and Oliver Goldsmith easilylearned how deep a fund of knowledge and elevated jocularity were within the bizarre-looking person.He worked hard, but constantly reproached himself for indolence.Johnson practiced so many of the Christian virtues (for instance, his household was full of ne'er-do-wells and even practicing prostitutes in whom he took a generous, non-sexual interest), but his religion gave him no comfort, only misery and despair.Johnson had a long-term friendship with Hester Thrale, who had an unhappy marriage.Meyers gives the sometimes circumstantial evidence that Mrs. Thrale engaged Johnson in masochistic play.Such thoughts were completely in accord with his gloomy outlook and unremitting self-reproach.When Mr. Thrale, who was also Johnson's friend, died, many assumed that Johnson and Mrs. Thrale would marry, but she had grown tired of years of tending to his many needs, and married another.

Though we may not read much of Johnson in his original works, Meyers winds up with a summary of Johnson's considerable influence on Austen, Hawthorne, Wolfe, Beckett, and Nabokov.More importantly, of course, because of Boswell we will have some inkling of Johnson's personality and what it must have been like to have been in his presence.Meyers's engrossing amplification of the great original biography puts much of it into a new context, and expands our wonder at Johnson's life and accomplishments.
... Read more

7. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language
Hardcover: 656 Pages (2004-10-14)
list price: US$41.30 -- used & new: US$12.95
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Asin: 184354296X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Samuel Johnson's 1755 two volume, 2,300 page dictionary marked a milestone in language. The work of a great reader and writer, and an earnest compiler, it was England's definitive dictionary for over 150 years until it was superseded by The Oxford English Dictionary. This new edition contains more than 3,100 selections faithfully adapted from the original. Bristling with quotations, the Dictionary offers a treasury of memorable passages on subjects ranging from books and critics to dreams and ethics. For those who appreciate literature and love language, this is a browser's delight - an encyclopaedia of the age and a dictionary for the ages. fribbler n.s. [from the verb.] A trifler A fribbler is one who professes rapture for the woman, and dreads her consent. Spectator No. 288 to lisp v.n. [hlisp, Saxon.] To speak with too frequent applauses of the tongue to the teeth or palate, like children. Come, I cannot cog, and say, thou art this and that, like a many of these lisping hawthorn buds, that come like women in mens apparel and smell like Bucklersbury in sampling time. Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor urinator n.s. [Urinateur, Fr. Urinator, Lat.]A diver; one who searches under water. The precious things that grow there, as pearl, may be much more easily fetched up by the help of this, than by any other way of urinators. Wilkins Math. Magic. abnormous adj. [abnormis, Lat. Our of rule] Irregular, misshapen. Afterclap n.s. Unexpected events happening after an affair is supposed to be at an end. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars Amateurish edition, unworthy of a great work
It's great fun to see a portable edition of the 'dixonary' as Thackeray's headmistress called it. However, this edition from the purveyors of the upscale office furnishings catalog needs a lot more editing and polishing. The Greek in the derivations, for one thing, is atrociously copyedited, replete with mistranscribed letters and spelling mistakes, and completely missing accentuation. This is unforgivable; Johnson, though no Classical scholar, tried to be scrupulously correct in his Greek spelling and accentuation. Johnson's English orthography is mostly updated to 21st century conventions, except when it randomly isn't. (The introduction says no updating has taken place. This is not true.) There is no information given about the editor, or his methods, which makes the whole work a bit suspect.

There are much better editions of the 'Dixonary' out there. Please, find a better one!

5-0 out of 5 stars Dip and enjoy!
Henry Hitchings, in his brilliant `Dr Johnson's Dictionary' (see my review), recommends this abridged edition of the Dictionary.It, too, is a treat for all who love words and are interested in the 18th century.It reproduces more than 3,000 entries of the 42,733 in the original First Edition.It includes: the Plan that Johnson originally submitted to the Earl of Chesterfield (15 pages), from which, however, he was to deviate later in several important respects; Johnson's splendid Preface (20 pages);Lynch's own excellent Introduction (21 pages);19 pages of Lynch's notes on those entries for which he felt a special explanation was necessary;and some very useful appendices.One lists (play by play) all the words in this edition for whose illustrations Johnson quoted plays by Shakespeare; another does the same for other authors (author by author - including the Bible);and a third, subject by subject, of what Lynch calls `piquant terms'.These include nearly three columns of `Inkhorn Terms', which would make for a splendid party game in which participants would be invited to guess their meaning.Lynch has in fact published a deck of 48 cards for just this purpose. (Here is a taster from the book, a selection from from just two letters:macilent, mactation, macilent, madefy, maffle, malvaceous, maritated, meracious, moky, morigerous, multiscious, mundivagant, mundungus, mussitation, mynchen, nimiety, nombles, nosology, nosopoetick, nubble, nummery, nuncupative.)This is all great fun;but there also is a lot of serious pleasure to be gained from dipping into this book for Johnson's definitions and for the examples he has culled from his wide reading.(It is a pity, though, that he did not specify more closely the place where his sources are to be found - partly, no doubt, as Hitchings explained, because Johnson often quoited from memory.For Biblical sources hedoes usually quote chapter and verse.Sometimes he does the same for Milton, but mostly not. Where his source is named simply `Shakespeare' or `Shak.Tit.And.', we could of course consult a Shakespeare Concordance for the precise place.But where there are no Concordances, a bare reference to `Dryd' or to `Swift' is a little frustrating.Another opportunity, perhaps, for a party game among the learnéd?)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lots of logomachious fun, great for classes!
This is by far the best selection of entries from Johnson's famous Dictionary available in print today.The difficult choice from among Johnson's many thousands of entries is well done, focusing on words we no longer use, or whose meaning has changed: this provides a window onto changes in English language and the character of 18th century thought, often with political and philosophical significance.Many of the entries are also intrinsically fascinating and/or humorous, making the book lots of fun.The book's introduction is first-rate, laying out the history and significance of this great lexicographic event in the history of our language.This combination makes the book useful for college courses.The author is a leading Johnson scholar and keeper of the primary website on 18th century English literature.He is also the author of a book on Johnson's insults, which I've found can come in very handy at department meetings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Samuel Johnson's Dictionary-by Jack Lynch
The advent of the 18th century required a formal English dictionary for the keepers of the language. The Samuel Johnson Dictionary served as the authority until the Oxford English Dictionary was first published. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary has an extensive index of literary citations. There are sarcasms; such as, " That one English soldier will beat 10 of France" by Gerrick.

The volume has classic words and sayings of the 18th century .
For instance, the following words are defined:

- to aberuncate is to pull by the roots
- abba is Syrian for father
- bisson means blind
- to blood-let is to bleed
- cit is a city inhabitant
- ciliary belongs to the eyelids
- crinigerous is hairy
- dalliance is fondness
- epulation is a banquet or a feast

This work would be valuable for any student of fine English
literature and early American literature. Every literary library
should have at least one copy or more for research purposes.
The volume is easy to read and reasonably priced.

4-0 out of 5 stars A necessity for historical reading
Madison warned us in the 1810s to be careful of the change in the use of words that had occured since the Founding, consider then how significant the changes have been from the founding till today.David McCullough kept an original copy of the dictionary close as he wrote his excellent book on Adam's.
In order to gain a more precise understanding of our heritage we have to remove the prism of viewing those times from our perspectives, and of course our use of language. We have never experienced, for example, a Baptist Minister being jailed in Virginia for the crime of preaching and not being an Anglican; Madison lived in a time when he could only hope for such a perspective. The education of many of the Founders was classical, hence their usage of words stayed closer to their original meanings, rather than the evolved usages we are fimiliar with. This excellent work, although containing selections, gives us a better view of what they were expressing.

In Federalist 37, Madison wrote:

.."Perspicuity,therefore, requires not only that the ideas should be distinctly formed, but that they should be expressed by words distinctly and exclusively appropriate to them."

Their effort to be precise having been noted, then this book offers us a clearer view of their intentions. If not we run the risk of being ill informed do to our pervicaciousness. ... Read more

8. A Dictionary of the English Language: An Anthology (Penguin Classics)
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 704 Pages (2007-10-30)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$10.84
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Asin: 0141441577
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Surprising, colorful, and long-forgotten entries from the most famous dictionary in the history of the English language

Samuel Johnson's best-known work, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), is the most influential and idiosyncratic lexicon ever written and was used by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, the Brontës and the Brownings, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde. This anthology includes 4,000 of the most representative, entertaining, and historically fascinating entries, covering subjects from fashion to food, science to sex, and given in full with original spelling and examples of usage from Shakespeare to Milton. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
I bought this as a graduation present for my best friend and spent some time just thumbing through this book.It is definitely an interesting read; especially with the origins of each entry. ... Read more

9. Samuel Johnson and the Life of Reading
by Robert DeMaria Jr.
Paperback: 288 Pages (2009-04-28)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$16.62
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Asin: 0801892422
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If readers of the twentieth century feel overwhelmed by the proliferation of writing and information, they can find in Samuel Johnson a sympathetic companion. Johnson's career coincided with the rapid expansion of publishing in England -- not only in English, but in Latin and Greek; not only in books, but in reviews, journals, broadsides, pamphlets, and books about books. In 1753 Johnson imagined a time when "writers will, perhaps, be multiplied, till no readers will be found." Three years later, he wrote that England had become "a nation of authors" in which "every man must be content to read his book to himself."

In Samuel Johnson and the Life of Reading, Robert DeMaria considers the surprising influence of one of the greatest readers in English literature. Johnson's relationship to books not only reveals much about his life and times, DeMaria contends, but also provides a dramatic counterpoint to modern reading habits. As a superior practitioner of the craft, Johnson provides a compelling model for how to read -- indeed, he provides different models for different kinds of reading. DeMaria shows how Johnson recognized early that not all reading was alike -- some requiring intense concentration, some suited for cursory glances, some requiring silence, some best appreciated amid the chatter of a coffeehouse. Considering the remarkable range of Johnson's reading, DeMaria discovers in one extraordinary career a synoptic view of the subject of reading.

... Read more

10. Samuel Johnson
by W. Jackson Bate
Paperback: 672 Pages (1998-06-01)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$24.39
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Asin: 1887178767
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, despite distractions.
A little too Freudian for my taste, and Bate unblushingly reads minds, across centuries. Most people find it difficult enough to read minds across a dinner table.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great find
I found this in out annual library sale for $1. I look forward to reading it based on the reviews here on Amazon. I suspect he is the famous Dr. Johnson that was said to disprove Berkeley by kicking a rock? Yes.

5-0 out of 5 stars He manages despite Boswell to add to our understanding of Johnson
I always wondered how anyone dare write a biography of Samuel Johnson since Boswell's Johnson is arguably the single greatest volume in all biographical literature. I now understand a bit better how this can be done , thanks to W.Jackson Bate.
Boswell presented Johnson as he knew him and heard him. He was a living witness who both worshipped the great man, and knew how to draw him out. Boswell is presented Johnson as he appears to contemporaries, in a way Johnson 'live'.
Walter Jackson Bate is doing something different. He is taking all the accumulated knowledge of Johnson, and using whatever techniques modern psychological and literary approaches give for understanding the human personality.
He is telling the story in a more detailed , systematic way and in a way which aims at akind of deeper comprehension.
What he does is provide insights into the life and character of one of the most fascinating and loveable characters of all English Literature.
Physically huge and powerful, and yet tremendously vulnerable emotionally, a person at once strictly critical in his evaluations of others and of literature, and yet suddenly surprisingly kind in care for friends and misfortunates, Johnson is many paradoxes. But what fascinates above all is his tremendous genius, his great mental and linguistic power in presenting an understanding of Literature as vital to Life.
He is certainly one of English Literature greatest 'characters' and 'creators' as this work makes abundantly clear.

Samuel Johnson was a brilliant critic, perhaps the greatest English writer after Shakespeare, a fascinating eccentric, and a genuinely heroic man. The great merit of Mr. Bate's biography is that he succeeds in the magical illusion of bringing Johnson alive again, giving us a vivid sense of what it might have been like to know him.

The highest praise for this book is the regret you will feel when the pages end and Johnson's great figure bows out. The biography is that rare item, a genuinely inspiring book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Quickest 600 Pages You'll Ever Read
This biography has everything: meticulous scholarship, incisive literary criticism, and a prose style that recalls the days when professors could actually write a beautiful sentence.

The weaknesses are very few. At times Bate's analysis can "sprawl," as he once put it, especially when he tries to apply Freud while discussing Johnson's "self-demand" (an intriguing concept that never really explains Johnson's indolence satisfactorily). Also, Bate tends to defend the Thrales even when they come off poorly, which is surprisingly often. Finally, a bit more on Johnson's relationship with Edmund Burke would have been welcome, for these two geniuses were all too aware of each other's greatness.

But these are only minor quibbles. Altogether an inspiring achievement, and a testament to the heights that only the humanities reach. ... Read more

11. Journey to the Hebrides: A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland : The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides With Samuel Johnson (Canongate)
by Samuel Johnson, James Boswell
Paperback: 470 Pages (1996-09)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$3.99
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Asin: 0862415888
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Samuel Johnson and James Boswell spent the autumn of 1773 touring the Highlands and the Western Islands of Scotland. Both kept detailed notes of their impressions and later published separate accounts of their journey together. The account of their great tour is one of the finest pieces of travel writing ever produced: it is a historical document and also a portrait of two extraordinary personalities. The juxtaposition of the two very different accounts creates a portrait of a society which was utterly alien to the Europe of the Enlightenment, and straining on the brink of calamitous change. It is suitable as a key text for school and college courses in literary or social history studies. Samuel Johnson is the author of "A Dictionary of the English Language" and "The Lives of The English Poets". James Boswell is the author of "The Life of Samuel Johnson". ... Read more

12. Samuel Johnson Is Indignant: Stories
by Lydia Davis
Paperback: 216 Pages (2002-09-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
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Asin: 0312420560
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From one of our most imaginative and inventive writers, a crystalline collection of perfectly modulated, sometimes harrowing, and often hilarious investigations into the multifaceted ways in which human beings perceive each other and themselves. A couple suspects their friends think them boring; a woman resolves to see herself as nothing but then concludes shes set too high a goal; and a funeral home receives a letter rebuking it for linguistic errors. In these and other stories, Lydia Davis once again proves herself to be one of the quiet giants in the world of American fiction (Los Angeles Times). ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

3-0 out of 5 stars Hit-and-miss, but it's worth it for the gems
A wide ranging collection of Davis's short (and very short) stories.Wide ranging in length, style, and subject matter.Many appear to be biographical; some are quite introspective; others are clearly fiction.Overall, I'd say this collection rates 3 stars, simply because a healthy number of the pieces are good but not great and a few fall flat.But this is the difficulty in rating a collection like this - there are some wonderful pieces in here as well, and you should read them. In addition, I know some pieces worked for me ("Certain Knowledge...", mentioned below, for example) partly because I read them at the right time. If I read this collection again in a year or two, I expect others may hit home.On the other hand, I'm not sure I've read a more poignent, touching, respectful, purely enjoyable and thorough biography (of any length) than "Marie Curie, So Honorable Woman", and I expect I'd feel the same way 10 years from now.

A few of the 'stories' are basically a title and a one-liner.Some of these are great, some just so-so.One that really hit home for me is "Certain Knowledge from Herodotus" because I just recently read the part of Herodotus's Histories that is referenced in this short-short piece, and it made me laugh out loud.Another is "Happiest Moment" with it's wonderful surprise in the last sentence.

The middle-length stories seemed to have struck the right chord for me.There's "Mown Lawn", a wonderful excercise in word play - just plain fun to read."Happy Memories", which struck more than a few chords for me, as did "Selfish", though for very different reasons.And "My Husband and I" has one the best opening lines I've read in a long time.

All in all, there's plenty here to recommend this book.I expect any reader will find gems and duds, but, again, that's often the nature of collections, especially from such an unpredictable writer as Davis.And thanks to McSweeneys for making sure things like this get published.

3-0 out of 5 stars At her best, Lydia Davis is awesome. That's about 50% of this book.
Begin with the not completely irrelevant observation that I plunked down $17 to buy my copy of this book, having been seduced at least in part by McSweeney's hype. Seventeen dollars.

Next, observe that here are some of the book's contents: (Note that each page is quoted in its entirety.)*

These are the facts about the fish in the Nile:

that Scotland has so few trees.

It invariably precedes, even if it does not altogether supercede, the determination of what is absolutely desirable and just.

You ask me about Edith Wharton.
Well, the name is very familiar.

page 167: AWAY FROM HOME
It has been so long since she used a metaphor!

Well, har-de-har-har, Ms Davis. Words are indeed the precious coins of our linguistic currency, and not to be squandered foolishly. But, given the allegedly beleaguered state of literary fiction these days, with readers scampering away in droves, is it really a wise strategy to adopt such a 'pearls before swine' approach in your writing? God forbid that one should apply as coarse a metric as 'words per dollar' to anyone's literary output, but the Swiss cheese nature of this particular collection left me - how shall I put it? - more than a little peckish at the end.

* These are not the only instances: pages 28, 66, 92, 98, 137, 141, 193, 199, and 200 are characterized by a similar paucity of text.

BUT , I cannot remain upset with you, dearest Lydia. How could I be vexed when, upon turning the almost contentless page 73, I find the completely disarming essay "Letter to a Funeral Parlor" with its devastatingly on-point opening sentence -

I am writing to you to object to the word 'cremains', which was used by your representative when he met with my mother and me two days after my father's death.

Oh, Lydia! Why do you tease us so? Next time, give us more of the good stuff, of which you are so obviously capable. More cheese. Fewer holes.

4-0 out of 5 stars From the sparse to the enigmatic - this a very good collection of original fiction
Lydia Davis writes short fiction...sometimes really short fiction. In this very good to great collection of short work, Davis has delivered a book both interesting in content and interesting in composition of the collection.

The bulk of the stories in this collection are short stories that feed the mind and fulfill the need for a quick literary fix; and these are intermixed with short short fiction - usually a paragraph in length - that work as a brief interlude between the longer pieces. There are a few stories in this collection that really fall short though as they are more gimmick than good fiction; a perfect example is "Oral History (with Hiccups)". This story has been weirdly spaced so that words are broken as if by a hiccup...cute, but so what; really nothing more distracting than a gimmick that doesn't further the story.

Of the notable pieces, you will find great pleasure with stories such as "In a Northern Country" where an elderly gentleman travels to a (seemingly) foreign land in search of a brother recently gone missing and finds an interesting collection of introverted villagers not too concerned with the disappearance of the brother or the villager gone missing with him. An interesting story with a sort-of gimmick that works is "Jury Duty" with its one-sided question and answer session monologue.

Overall, this book is a satisfying collection that leaves me wanting more of Lydia Davis' short fiction.


A Guide to my Book Rating System:

1 star = The wood pulp would have been better utilized as toilet paper.
2 stars = Don't bother, clean your bathroom instead.
3 stars = Wasn't a waste of time, but it was time wasted.
4 stars = Good book, but not life altering.
5 stars = This book changed my world in at least some small way.

1-0 out of 5 stars Almost criminally awful.
Lydia Davis, Samuel Johnson Is Indignant (McSweeney's, 2005)

I once again find myself wondering what it is about the Cult of McSweeney's that makes anyone think that anyone at this press has even the barest modicum of taste-- or whether, in this case, they are even capable of recognizing and classifying content. While one cannot doubt that roughly one-third of the fifty-six pieces here do, in fact, classify as "stories," the rest, which range in length from one sentence to about a page and a half, are arguable at best as stories. Really, it would be hard to even call most of this stuff flash fiction. Most would be hard-pressed to find their way into the aphorism category. (Immediately discount any reviewer who refers to anything here as poetry.) So, one is left to ask, what does one make of, for example, the title story, which in its entirety reads

"that Scotland has so few trees."?

This is not to say that Davis doesn't occasionally come close enough to the mark to make us wonder what could have been; "Marie Curie, So Honorable Woman" and "In a Northern Country" are almost coherent enough to really sweep us off our feet here at Goat Central, but don't quite get there. Unfortunately, such pieces are too few here, and you have to wade through far too many swine to find the pearls (in the rough). *

4-0 out of 5 stars The definition of "Hit or Miss"
Half the pieces (most can't really be called "stories") will make you think or laugh. The other half will make you go "meh."

Half the stories are brimming with wit and intelligence. The other half sound like pseudo-literary versions of rejected MadTV jokes.

Oh well. There should be enough good stuff to please anyone. Plus, McSweeneys deserves all the support you can give, as they are putting out the best work and in the best format. ... Read more

13. Samuel Johnson: Selected Writings
by Samuel Johnson
Hardcover: 536 Pages (2009-09-30)
list price: US$29.95 -- used & new: US$18.84
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Asin: 0674035852
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Thanks to Boswell’s monumental biography of Samuel Johnson, we remember Dr. Johnson today as a great wit and conversationalist, the rationalist epitome and the sage of the Enlightenment. He is more often quoted than read, his name invoked in party conversation on such diverse topics as marriage, sleep, deceit, mental concentration, and patriotism, to generally humorous effect. But in Johnson’s own day, he was best known as an essayist, critic, and lexicographer: a gifted writer possessed of great force of mind and wisdom. Writing a century after Johnson, Ruskin wrote of Johnson’s essays: He “taught me to measure life, and distrust fortune…he saved me forever from false thoughts and futile speculations.” Peter Martin here presents “the heart of Johnson,” a selection of some of Johnson’s best moral and critical essays. At the center of this collection are the periodical essays from the Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler. Also included are Johnson’s great moral fable, Rasselas; the Prefaces to the Dictionary and his edition of Shakespeare; and selections from Lives of the Poets. Together, these works—allied in their literary, social, and moral concerns—are the ones that continue to speak urgently to readers today.

(20090901) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars In His Own Words
A must purchase for fans of Samuel Johnson. The informed editor, Peter Martin, judiciously has selected portions from Dr. Johnson's wide written legacy and made them available in a convenient form for the modern reader. Mr. Martin allows his hero, Dr. Johnson, to speak for himself without cluttering this book with his own commentary and asides.

(I do highly recommend Peter Martin's 2008 biography of Samuel Johnson, in which the editor of this book does give his commentary on the powerful life of the English man of letters.)

I have read many books about Dr. Johnson: this one provided me with the handy opportunity to consider selections from his own writings that I had previously been aware of only indirectly, such as "Lives of the Poets" and "Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia."

4-0 out of 5 stars The Oxford Anthology is decidedly better.
Well, if I've only given this four stars, and not five, it's not due to any failure of Samuel Johnson's.Everything in this book is fine.But the anthology published by Oxford (edited by Donald Greene) is decidedlybetter.

The Oxford Anthology has twice as many of his essays, thePreface to Shakespeare is -complete-, not "From...", and thecomplete preface to the Dictionary;it also has his short fiction Rasselas(complete), as well as a sermon or two and some early examples of hisbiographies; the Vision of Theodore, Hermit of Tenerife.

Honestly, Ican't complain about ANY anthology of Johnson;and this will do you verywell.But the Oxford Anthology will do you so much better. ... Read more

14. Life and Conversations of Dr. Samuel Johnson: (Founded Chiefly Upon Boswell).
by James Boswell, Alexander Main
Paperback: 474 Pages (2010-02-16)
list price: US$37.75 -- used & new: US$21.37
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Asin: 1144685117
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This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

15. Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson
by Hester Lynch Piozzi
Paperback: 86 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003VS0CVA
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Hester Lynch Piozzi is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Hester Lynch Piozzi then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Reading Boswell on Johnson is not enough.
Very glad to see an inexpensive edition of Hester Thrale Piozzi's Anecdotes in print.While Boswell's "Life of Johnson" is certainly an engaging read, Boswell's and Piozzi's experieices don't overlap that much, so Piozzi captures a different side of Johnson.Hester Thrale and her husband Henry rescued Johnson from a period of depression by getting him out of London proper and into their family life, and Johnson thrived.Boswell didn't see that much of this side, and their accounts are complementary (though hints of the rivalry often come through).There are also some great lines in here, some of which are my favorites:" Life is a pill which none of us can bear to swallow without gilding;" "The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public;" "we must either outlive our friends you know, or our friends must outlive us;and I see no man that would hesitate about the choice."Well worth your time and money! ... Read more

16. The Samuel Johnson Encyclopedia:
by Pat Rogers
Hardcover: 520 Pages (1996-05-30)
list price: US$145.00 -- used & new: US$130.50
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Asin: 0313294119
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is the first-ever attempt to present all the significant facts about Samuel Johnson in a single volume. The 650 alphabetically arranged entries cover every aspect of Johnson's life, career, and personality. The volume describes each of his works in detail, examining such matters as composition, publication, and reception. It gives up-to-date accounts of his attitude on key themes and concepts and explores his central ideas on literary, moral, political, social, and religious questions. It provides biographies of all persons with whom Johnson had any sort of real contact and gives a detailed picture of the Club and its members. This is a one-stop aid that will enable students and readers of Johnson to locate almost any fact about him quickly and easily. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars AN EXCELLENT REFERENCE!
This work gathers in one convenient volume a wealth of information from many sources.Anyone reading the works of Samuel Johnson or James Boswell, or reading about Samuel Johnson or James Boswell, will find it immensely useful and endlessly browseable.It is expensive; but I cannot recommend it too highly for anyone who loves the study of Samuel Johnson and his world. I believe there is no other comparable reference work on this subject. ... Read more

17. Life of Johnson (Oxford World's Classics)
by James Boswell
Paperback: 1536 Pages (2008-08-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$10.98
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Asin: 0199540217
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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This complete and unabridged edition is the only complete critical edition in paperback. Samuel Johnson was a poet, essayist, dramatist, and pioneering lexicographer, but his continuing reputation depends less on his literary output than on the fortunate accident of finding an ideal biographer in James Boswell. As Johnson's constant and admiring companion, Boswell was able to record not only the outward events of his life, but also the humour, wit, and sturdy common sense of his conversation. His brilliant portrait of a major literary figure of the eighteenth century, enriched by historical and social detail, remains a monument to the art of biography. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars Tiresome prig
This biography is one of the "classics" of English literature. Unfortunately, I found the subject, Samuel Johnson, a thoroughly unlikeable, arrogant prig. Despite Boswell's best efforts at hero worship, I could not get past Johnson's self-righteousness.

5-0 out of 5 stars a gem
Where would we be without Dr. Johnson? Where would we be without his little and admirable friend, Boswell? In the Life, we learn as much about this giant as we might our mothers; only, we learn things that actually intrigue, whereas a mother's life at times must bore. This is an excellent way to befriend Johnson and his life. It will start a relationship that, I promise you, will not end. ... Read more

18. Samuel Johnson: Selected Poetry and Prose
by Frank Brady, William Wimsatt
Paperback: 656 Pages (1978-02-07)
list price: US$31.95 -- used & new: US$18.86
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Asin: 0520035526
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This is a major new selection of Samuel Johnson's best work, delightfully introduced by W. K. Wimsatt and scrupulously annotated by Frank Brady and Mr. Wimsatt.
Samuel Johnson, the only writer in English since the Renaissance to give his name to a literary period, was the center of English letters in his time. He was Dictionary Johnson, the lexicographer who had single-handedly settled the English language (it was hoped) on a firm basis; he was the author of a handful of fine poems, including two of the most remarkable satires of the century; he was a moralist whose Rambler and Idler essays, and novel-of-ideas Rasselas, provided a searching view of men and matters. And in his final years he produced his greatest work, that extraordinary combination of biography and criticism which came to be known as the Lives of the Poets.
This first extensive anthology of Johnson's writings to be published in many years emphasizes Johnson the writer. It responds to those aspects of Johnson's work of special interest to modern readers. It comprises a selection of Johnson's letters, all of his major poems (including London), Rasselas, twenty-one Rambler, nineteen Idlers, the Prefaces to the Dictionary and to the edition of Shakespeare, and the following Lives of the Poets: Cowley, Milton, Swift, Pope, Savage, Collins, and Gray.
All these works are extensively annotated and printed complete. Mr. Wimsatt, one of the outstanding Johnsonians of this century, provides in his Introduction a clear, connected biographical account of Johnson, stressing his writings. An up-to-date bibliography is also included. Johnson's varied accomplishments--as poet, as moralist, as biographer, as critic--are all amply represented. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Doctor is In
Samuel Johnson was in his era what E.F. Hutton was in his. When the Doctor spoke, people listened. His sidekick and amanuensis, James Boswell, of course immortalized his utterances in one of the grandest biographies ever written. What this volume (and similar collections) indicates is that Johnson was equally irrepressible in print.

Johnson was nothing if not opinionated. Yet, coming from him, they are never merely opinions. There is always a great degree of heft and weight supporting them (no pun intended, as he was an immense man physically as well as intellectually)). Though he received only an honorary degree from Oxford (he was too poor to remain at school), he was one of the most learned men of any era. The range and breadth of his reading is unsurpassed by any other major literary figure, with the possible exception of Milton. Yet Johnson never comes across as overblown, nor does he ever trumpet his learning. His writing is informed be a sense of humility and compassion, that no doubt were among the attributes that endeared him to so many of the leading lights of his generation. And of course, he also had a marvelous sense of humor, which also comes through in this collection. Unfortunately for him, his good moods were often followed by serious bouts of depression, which is reflected in his most famous poem, "The Vanity of Human Wishes." By today's standards, he would be diagnosed most probably as a manic-depressive. There were many days when he found it difficult to summon the resolve to get out of bed and face the day. What saved him was his naturally gregarious nature. He thoroughly enjoyed the company he found in London's taverns.

His compassion for others is legendary. He thought that the character of a country was determined by the degree to which it ministered to the poor. He was an ardent foe, as exhibited in one of his "Idler" articles, of so-called scientific experimentation on animals. He viscerally describes the cruel and inhumane use that dogs were subjected to by anatomy researchers in his era. It is one of the most compellingly moving diatribes against this still-controversial subject that one is likely to encounter.One of the marks of great authors is that they say things we sometimes think of ourselves in such an adroit and pithy manner that we think they could not be better expressed. Take this Johnson quote on "idleness," for example: "As pride sometimes is hid under humility, idleness is often covered by turbulence and hurry. He that neglects his own duty and real employment, naturally endeavors to crowd his mind with something that may bar out the remembrance of his own folly, and does anything but what he ought to do with eager diligence, that he may keep himself in his own favor."

Dr. Johnson was also one of the foremost literary critics in history. Though one may not always agree with his assessments, one has to acknowledge the force of his arguments. In his encomiums to such writers as Shakespeare, Milton and Pope, he intermittently sprinkles censure. For those of us who don't like to see our icons brought down to earth, this is sometimes painful. What Johnson is really doing, however, is showing us that our own judgments are often unbalanced, and we fail to see what are real flaws in the great edifices. Johnson is never interested in pure panegyrics. His task is to examine the entire picture and to report as accurately as possible the grandeur, as well as the shortcomings of a work, whether it is Pope's Iliad, Shakespeare's Hamlet, or Milton's Paradise Lost. If there is a last word that could be said to have been delivered on these monumental works, it may well be Johnson's.

If you haven't visited the Doctor recently, do yourself some good and remedy the situation. ... Read more

19. A dictionary of the English language in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers.
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 958 Pages (2010-08-06)
list price: US$62.75 -- used & new: US$42.90
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Asin: 117144396X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The 18th century was a wealth of knowledge, exploration and rapidly growing technology and expanding record-keeping made possible by advances in the printing press. In its determination to preserve the century of revolution, Gale initiated a revolution of its own: digitization of epic proportions to preserve these invaluable works in the largest archive of its kind. Now for the first time these high-quality digital copies of original 18th century manuscripts are available in print, making them highly accessible to libraries, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.
Western literary study flows out of eighteenth-century works by Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Frances Burney, Denis Diderot, Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and others. Experience the birth of the modern novel, or compare the development of language using dictionaries and grammar discourses.
The below data was compiled from various identification fields in the bibliographic record of this title. This data is provided as an additional tool in helping to insure edition identification:
National Library of Scotland


Issued in parts.Titlepage in red and black.

London : printed by W. Strahan, for J. Knapton; C. Hitch and L. Hawes; A. Millar; R. and J. Dodsley; and M. and T. Longman, 1756. 2v. ; 2° ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars In praise of Amazon and, of course, Dr Johnson
I, too, received only Vol. 2 of my order. Through Amazon's website I informed them and received an immediate response advising that a new order had been placed by them, that when I received it and was satisfied I was to return the sole volume to them. The replacement, both volumes, arrived within 7 days. After completion of the return form downloaded from their website the Vol. 2 for return was posted airmail at a cost of US$55 !! which sum I was assured would be refunded to me. The book arrived safely at Amazon and I have since received full refund of postage into my card account. All this took place most politely and amicably.
Well done Amazon.The dictionary keeps me out of mischief.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Dictionary of the English Language...
I wish that I could review this book for all who might be interested but I can not. The reason that I am unable to discuss the book is that I was sent only one volume of a two volume set. When I called Amazon to inquire about the whereabouts of the second volume, I was told to return the book that I had received and Amazon would send the complete set to me in return. Ok, no problem right? Wrong! After returning the book, I was told that this item is out of stock. What?! Yes, out of stock... And they had the nerve to claim that the return mailing charges were my responsiblity. So, now I have no books and am out he postage incurred due to their mistake.
Thank you Amazon!
A Former Customer

5-0 out of 5 stars missing volume
This dictionary is quite brilliant in its evocation of the language in development - I am, however, still waiting for Amazon to send me volume 1 - which they seem to have lost!Make sure you get both volumes!

5-0 out of 5 stars a tool that's also a pleasure
So, this is a dictionary, an expensive and outdated one. For a third the price you can have an Oxford dictionary in two volumes with just about every word used in English today and complete with magnifying glass to let you read the little bitty type. For three times the price you can have the 20-volume full-sized Oxford. Why spend the money on this dictionary?

Because it's so much more than a dictionary. It's a work of humor, literature, and culture. Johnson illustrates almost every word with a bit of literature that includes one of its earliest known uses. His choices reflect a wonderful sense of humor, as do some of his definitions. He also includes word etymologies. The result is a static picture of English as it was in the 18th century - the words, their use, the context that gave them meaning - but also a dynamic picture of English as it was becoming what it is today. As another reviewer (well, the only other reviewer to date) of this dictionary notes, Johnson's dictionary was THE dictionary of the great 19th century writers in English. Hence Johnson doesn't just capture the literary and linguistic past, he also presages its future.

This is a fun dictionary to just sit down and read. No other dictionary of English is so fun to read as this one. Even the best of them is really just a tool. This one is certainly a tool (I think that any serious writer should own this dictionary before all others), but it is also a pleasure.

Okay, it's also quite an expensive pleasure. The facsimile is of high quality, bound (as was the 1755 original) in two volumes (though unlike the original, in standard library bindings). It's solid and looks solid on the shelf, though not terribly pretty. If you feel extravegant paying that much for a dictionary, you might consider buying the paperback condensed version, which contains about a fifth of the original material at a twentieth the price of the facsimile. If that sells you on Johnson, then splurge on this version. You might end up spending many pleasant evenings reading the dictionary.

5-0 out of 5 stars The OriginalBest Dictionary is Still a Great Resource
Yes, I gasped at the price tag, too. But I bought it anyway and I'm glad I did. I'm also hopeful that enough people will buy this so as to make more affordable reprints possible in the future, because in my mind it is worth the cost. Here's why.

First of all, this is a facsimile reprint of the First Edition (1755) of Samuel Johnson's classic Dictionary, even down to the printer's smudges on some pages. The paper is top quality acid-free stuff, so you can count on it lasting for a while. It is Library-Bound, with Library of Congress Reference numbers pre-printed on the spine, so if you're like me, it will look odd on your bookshelf. But I don't care, and I hope you won't either, because it is just so....useful.

A work of truly mammoth scholarship, this 2-volume set has contextual quotes from famous English authors (Newton, Milton, Shakespeare, et al) and etymologies (word origins) given for nearly every word's various meanings. It boggles the mind to think of the depth of knowledge required for this work. And even that assessment says nothing of its pieces on the history of English, and the grammatical preface that has since become the basis for all of our grammar books, each with textual examples.
There are drawbacks of course. The most obvious ones are the lack of pronunciation guides and the standard 18th-century "s"'s that look like "f"'s. It can pose a challenge to readability for publicly-schooled eyes like mine, but it gets easier if you associate a soft "S" sound (as in "hiss") with this symbol. Then there are the imperfections (from a modern standpoint) in the definitions: some are now-outdated (see "Electricity"), some are borne of bitter experience (see "Lexicographer"), and there is even the odd factually incorrect definition or two. But such cases are the very rare exception and not the rule.
All of that is nice to know, but the true measure of any reference work is its utility: Who uses it, and to create what? By that test, you and your family NEED regular access to this book; it is the reference book behind the greatest flowering of intellectual and linguistic achievement in the history of English as a language. This is the dictionary whose words inspired Wordsworth, Byron, Coleridge, Emerson, Blackstone, Sir Walter Scott, Oscar Wilde, and hosts of others both great and small.
If you compare its influence to, say, Webster's Unabridged edition, there is no dispute. Despite its near-universality for a century, Webster's dictionary can boast of no such list of writers with a similar command of the language as Johnson's. A closer look reveals why: If you do not know how a word is used, Webster's will leave you in the dark. Webster's offers no context for the words, few etymologies and hardly any usage examples. The meanings may be "right", but it does not enlighten or expand the mind in the process of finding those meanings; you might know "what," but you do not know "why."There is no such argument possible with Johnson. He shows you where great writers have used those same words to good effect, and by extension you can do it too.
Enlightenment toward truth and usefulness is what Great Works are all about, and Samuel Johnson's own personal enlightenment coming through this dictionary's pages is what makes it a Great Work in its own right. But this dictionary also imparts some that enlightenment to us, and makes us more capable of using the English language to make our own Great Works, and that is why it is still far superior to almost every other dictionary you can think of. ... Read more

20. Lives of the Poets, Volume 1
by Samuel Johnson
Paperback: 306 Pages (2010-03-07)
list price: US$38.23 -- used & new: US$38.23
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Asin: 1153638223
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The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: Poets, English/ Biography/ Early works to 1800; Poets, English/ Early modern, 1500-1700/ Biography; Poets, English/ 18th century/ Biography; Poets, English; Poets, English - 18th century; Poets, English - Early modern, 1500-1700; Literary Collections / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh; Biography ... Read more

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