Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare
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Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare

The Discipline of Criticism

Title Details

Pages: 224

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/01/2009

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3386-1

List Price: $30.95

Samuel Johnson on Shakespeare

The Discipline of Criticism

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  • Description

Since the first appearance of Samuel Johnson's edition of Shakespeare's drama in 1765, its Preface has often been published separately, while the Notes have been treated as miscellaneous and fragmentary. As a result, few modern readers realize that the Notes in fact contain coherent interpretations of most of the plays and that many portions of the Preface are generalizations related to those readings. Scholars who have examined the Notes carefully have almost always used them in studies of larger issues, such as Johnson's morality or rhetoric. In this book, Edward Tomarken provides the first full-length study of the Notes to Shakespeare, showing how they raise issues of direct concern to modern critics and theoreticians.

While referring to Johnson's notes on all the Shakespearean dramas, Tomarken focuses on eight plays--Henry IV, Troilus and Cressida, Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Macbeth--to demonstrate the range of Johnson's editorial and critical abilities. Each chapter, devoted to a single play, moves from the particular to the general-from specific remarks about the play in the Notes, to related theoretical statements in the Preface, and finally to an axiom of literary theory. Ranging from a formulation concerning ideology in criticism to a reconsideration of aesthetic empathy, these axioms are, Tomarken contends, essential to literary criticism as a discipline and manifest Johnson's relevance to moder

About the Author/Editor

EDWARD TOMARKEN is a professor of English at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His books include Genre and Ethics: The Education of an Eighteenth-Century Critic; As You Like It from 1600 to the Present: Critical Essays, A History of the Commentary on Selected Writings of Samuel Johnson; and Johnson, Rasselas, and the Choice of Criticism. Tomarken's current project is a book on cinema and literary theory.