Preface to Shakespeare, by Samuel Johnson - Adelaide

Samuel Johnson's "Preface to Shakespeare" Essay | Essay

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Preface to Shakespeare Essay Examples

But the greater part of his excellence was the product of his own genius. He found the English stage in a state of the utmost rudeness; no essays either in tragedy or comedy had appeared, from which it could be discovered to what degree of delight either one or other might be carried. Neither character nor dialogue were yet understood. Shakespeare may be truly said to have introduced them both amongst us, and in some of his happier scenes to have carried them both to the utmost height.

Preface to Shakespeare Essay - 2943 Words

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Johnson, "Preface to Shakespeare" (Abridged)

Preface to Shakespeare By Samuel Johnson Edited by Jack Lynch, Rutgers University — Newark

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English Literature: Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare

First editions of Alexander Pope’s Shakespeare, with the supplementary seventh volume, rarely present, which was issued by another publisher in 1725 and included Venus and Adonis, the poems and an essay on the history of drama. One of 750 copies. Quarto, seven volumes. Bound in full contemporary leather, volume 7 bound in quarter leather, gilt titles and tooling to the spine, marbled endpapers. Volume 1 with the engraved frontispiece of Shakespeare by George Vertue, engraved portrait of Alexander Pope. An excellent set in very good condition, rebacked.


Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson: An Overview Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare published in 1765 is a comment on the ..

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Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson: An Overview

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Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson (no ..

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Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson - TES …

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The Preface to Shakespeare & King Lear | Say What?!

From translating the First of Homer's Iliads, (which I intended as an Essay to the whole Work) I proceeded to the Translation of the Twelfth Book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, because it contains, among other Things, the Causes, the Beginning, and Ending, of the Trojan War: Here I ought in reason to have stopp'd; but the Speeches of Ajax and Ulysses lying next in my way, I could not balk 'em. When I had compass'd them, I was so taken with the former Part of the Fifteenth Book, (which is the Master-piece of the whole Metamorphoses) that I enjoyn'd my self the pleasing Task of rendring it into English. And now I found, by the Number of my Verses, that they began to swell into a little Volume; which gave me an Occasion of looking backward on some Beauties of my Author, in his former Books: There occur'd to me the Hunting of the Boar, Cinyras and Myrrha, the good-natur'd Story of Baucis and Philemon, with the rest, which I hope I have translated closely enough, and given them the same Turn of Verse, which they had in the Original, and this, I may say without vanity, is not the Talent of every Poet: He who has arriv'd the nearest to it, is the Ingenious and Learned Sandys, the best Versifier of the former Age; if I may properly call it by that Name, which was the former Part of this concluding Century. For Spencer and Fairfax both flourish'd in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth: Great Masters in our Language; and who saw much farther into the Beauties of our Numbers, than those who immediately followed them. Milton was the Poetical Son of Spencer, and Mr. Waller of Fairfax; for we have our Lineal Descents and Clans, as well as other Families: Spencer more than once insinuates, that the Soul of Chaucer was transfus'd into his Body; and that he was begotten by him Two hundred years after his Decease. Milton has acknowledg'd to me, that Spencer was his Original; and many besides my self have heard our famous Waller own, that he deriv'd the Harmony of his Numbers from the Godfrey of Bulloign, which was turn'd into English by Mr. Fairfax. But to return: Having done with Ovid for this time, it came into my mind, that our old English Poet Chaucer in many Things resembled him, and that with no disadvantage on the Side of the Modern Author, as I shall endeavour to prove when I compare them: And as I am, and always have been studious to promote the Honour of my Native Country, so I soon resolv'd to put their Merits to the Trial, by turning some of the Canterbury Tales into our Language, as it is now refin'd: For by this Means both the Poets being set in the same Light, and dress'd in the same English Habit, Story to be compar'd with Story, a certain judgment may be made betwixt them, by the Reader, without obtruding my Opinion on him: Or if I seem partial to my Country-man, and Predecessor in the Laurel, the Friends of Antiquity are not few: And besides many of the Learn'd, Ovid has almost all the Beaux, and the whole Fair Sex, his declar'd Patrons. Perhaps I have assum'd somewhat more to my self than they allow me; because I have adventur'd to sum up the Evidence: But the Readers are the jury; and their Privilege remains entire to decide according to the Merits of the Cause: Or, if they please to bring it to another Hearing, before some other Court. In the mean time, to follow the Thrid of my Discourse, (as Thoughts, according to Mr. Hobbs, have always some Connexion) so from Chaucer I was led to think on Boccace, who was not only his Contemporary, but also pursu'd the same Studies; wrote Novels in Prose, and many Works in Verse; particularly is said to have invented the Octave Rhyme, or Stanza of Eight Lines, which ever since has been maintain'd by the Practice of all Italian Writers, who are, or at least assume the Title of Heroick Poets: He and Chaucer, among other Things, had this in common, that they refin'd their Mother-Tongues; but with this difference, that Dante had begun to file their Language, at least in Verse, before the time of Boccace, who likewise receiv'd no little Help from his Master Petrarch: But the Reformation of their Prose was wholly owing to Boccace himself; who is yet the Standard of Purity in the Italian Tongue; though many of his Phrases are become obsolete, as in process of Time it must needs happen. Chaucer (as you have formerly been told by our learn'd Mr. Rhymer) first adorn'd and amplified our barren Tongue from the Provencall, which was then the most polish'd of all the Modern Languages: But this Subject has been copiously treated by that great Critick, who deserves no little Commendation from us his Countrymen. For these Reasons of Time, and Resemblance of Genius, in Chaucer and Boccace, I resolv'd to join them in my present Work; to which I have added some Original Papers of my own; which whether they are equal or inferiour to my other Poems, an Author is the most improper judge; and therefore I leave them wholly to the Mercy of the Reader: I will hope the best, that they will not be condemn'd; but if they should, I have the Excuse of an old Gentleman, who mounting on Horseback before some Ladies, when I was present, got up somewhat heavily, but desir'd of the Fair Spectators, that they would count Fourscore and eight before they judg'd him. By the Mercy of God, I am already come within Twenty Years of his Number, a Cripple in my Limbs, but what Decays are in my Mind, the Reader must determine. I think my self as vigorous as ever in the Faculties of my Soul, excepting only my Memory, which is not impair'd to any great degree; and if I lose not more of it, I have no great reason to complain. What judgment I had, increases rather than diminishes; and Thoughts, such as they are, come crowding in so fast upon me, that my only Difficulty is to chuse or to reject; to run them into Verse, or to give them the other Harmony of Prose. I have so long studied and practis'd both, that they are grown into a Habit, and become familiar to me. In short, though I may lawfully plead some part of the old Gentleman's Excuse; yet I will reserve it till I think I have greater need, and ask no Grains of Allowance for the Faults of this my present Work, but those which are given of course to Humane Frailty. I will not trouble my Reader with the shortness of Time in which I writ it; or the several Intervals of Sickness: They who think too well of their own Performances, are apt to boast in their Prefaces how little Time their Works have cost them; and what other Business of more importance interfer'd: But the Reader will be as apt to ask the Question, Why they allow'd not a longer Time to make their Works more perfect? and why they had so despicable an opinion of their judges, as to thrust their indigested Stuff upon them, as if they deserv'd no better?...