A study of Samuel Johnson's literary criticism : with special emphasis on the lives of the English poets

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dc.contributor.advisor Adrian, Daryl B. en_US
dc.contributor.author Castellani, Joseph, 1931- en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-03T19:24:01Z
dc.date.available 2011-06-03T19:24:01Z
dc.date.created 1972 en_US
dc.date.issued 1972
dc.identifier LD2489.Z64 1972 .C38 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/handle/175454
dc.description.abstract The impact of Johnson's beliefs and his statements of them have frequently been interpreted as excessively dogmatic. Indeed, some critics have chosen to view Johnson as an eccentric, the last defender of an obsolete neo-classical tradition. Moreover, before the twentieth century's reappraisal of Johnson's literary role, the nineteenth had heaped scorn and derision on his perceptive judgment.As a practitioner of most forms of literary criticism, Johnson was particularly qualified to pass judgment on the "faults and beauties" of. literary compositions. His own distinguished career as poet, biographer, essayist and journalist gave him direct and invaluable knowledge of the creative process so that his pronouncements represent a lifelong interest in and association with literature.Johnson was an empirical critic. His point of departure was always the literary text. Although he acknowledged that rules could be formulated from an analysis of poetry, he stressed the danger of rigid standards of measurement. While Johnson exemplified the classical tradition in criticism, he was no slavish conformist to rules even when they had evolved from the ancients in such matters as the unities.Truth, nature and reason were basic to Johnson's criticism. He insisted that conventions should harmonize with the dictates of reason and common sense. Moreover, he took an independent stand when occasion demanded it. Such was his opposition to the pastoral and his censure of the use of excessive mythology in poetry.Johnson was a strong advocate of general principles. He believed that only general effects were indicative of true worth, and so he repudiated both microscopic and telescopic methods of criticism. Particularity, he maintained in Rasselas, was to be avoided because the minute analysis of poetry fragmented the general spirit of the composition.Johnson was a moral critic. He never judged literature solely on aesthetic grounds, nor did he value literature for its own sake. Life and literature were inseparable for him. He supported the established custom in letters that held that poetry should provide utility and pleasure. Moreover, Johnson insisted that poets should teach man the correct view of manners, morals and social relations, for he strongly believed that literature should inculcate goodness, teach society principles of reason and justice and demonstrate the repression of evil.This study was divided into five chapters. Chapter I, "The Critic and Criticism," is devoted to Johnson's pronouncements on the role of the critic and the nature of criticism. Johnson forcefully provides a rationale for the dual function of poet and critic which he so admirably exemplifies. Chapter II, "Little Prefaces, Little Lives," reviews the circumstances that resulted in his last great work and includes a representative sampling of Johnson's critical declarations as it appears in a number of major and minor lives. Chapters III and, IV present an analysis of six major life studies: Dryden, Milton, Addison, Cowley, Swift and Pope. The accounts of these particular poets were selected for detailed comment because they represent Johnson's critical writing at its best. In each spirited rendition, Johnson weaves a rich tapestry of critical and biographical composition that is unrivalled in English letters.Finally, in Chapter V, "Critical Matrices," significant clusters of ideas are identified around which Johnson's critical attitudes adhere in all of his works. Thus it is with admirable consistency of statement, abundant illustration and clarity of example, that Johnson skillfully presents his view on mythology, imagination, decorum and imitation, as well as on the pastoral and the general and particular in literary criticism. Each of these topics, therefore, is discussed at some length in the last chapter, illustrated by examples from the Lives of the English Poets. en_US
dc.format.extent 254 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Criticism. en_US
dc.subject.other Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Lives of the English poets. en_US
dc.title A study of Samuel Johnson's literary criticism : with special emphasis on the lives of the English poets en_US
dc.description.degree Thesis (D. Ed.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url http://liblink.bsu.edu/catkey/414585 en_US


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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3248]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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