"Parallel circumstances, and kindred images" : the active vision in Samuel Johnson's Rambler

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dc.contributor.advisor Rippy, Frances Mayhew en_US
dc.contributor.author Taylor, Barbara M. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-03T19:33:28Z
dc.date.available 2011-06-03T19:33:28Z
dc.date.created 1982 en_US
dc.date.issued 1982
dc.identifier LD2489.Z72 1982 .T39 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://cardinalscholar.bsu.edu/handle/handle/182712
dc.description.abstract Dr. Samuel Johnson noted in his "Preface to Shakespeare" that ". . . human judgment, though it be gradually gaining upon certainty never becomes infallible . . . ." This observation is the central concern which unifies the diversity of thought and form in Johnson's work, a central unity which this thesis has illustrated chiefly with examples from The Rambler.The first of six chapters chronologically surveys the scholarship which is related to this topic, noting first that the criticism generally has overlooked Johnson's concern with questions about the nature of perception, judgment, comprehension, and understanding. Instead typical evaluations of Johnson's work have described it as attitude or prejudice rendered in grandiloquent style--content contained within static form--a flat conception which either ignores or misunderstands Johnson's process of building into his work questions concerning the perceptions embodied there. This chapter begins by documenting an initial barrier to anunderstanding of Johnson's work: the interference of his personality. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, biographies of Johnson overshadowed his own work, largely deflecting serious critical attention from that work. However, the survey further notes that there were critics during these centuries who observed this problem and argued for a redirected scholarly attention to the work itself. The survey then concludes by noting that these arguments were picked up in the twentieth century and translated into serious textual criticism of Johnson's work, particularly his periodical essays.Chapter two argues that for a full understanding of Johnson's work, it must be viewed against the backdrop of a shaping concern. The chapter identifies this concern as Johnson's desire to connect experience with its meaning or consequence. Although we automatically assume that monumental or panoramic happenings have meaning, Johnson desired to make clear that these larger meanings were merely the accumulation of less significant meanings. Consequently, the concern which shapes and directs his work is his effort to illuminate a connection between the seemingly insignificant events of everyday life and the larger human meaning of which they are a part.Using citations from Johnson's Dictionary, Rasselas, and the Rambler, chapter three documents Johnson's additional perception that the human condition is a state of "universal uncertainty." In Johnson's view, uncertainty is a universally experienced characteristic of the human condition. Indeed, uncertainty is not simply one part of our condition; it comprises human experience.This uncertain condition results in Johnson's frequently expressed reservations about the reliability of human judgment. Chapter four analyzes Johnson's assertion that individual perception is inferior to the accumulating mass of a collective human understanding.Johnson's alternative response to the demands of uncertainty is described in chapter five. To counteract the egocentricity of individual perception, Johnson argues that judgment must be the product of moral reflection rather than intellectual ratiocination.This assertion then is embodied in a writing process which constantly attempts to outmaneuver the ability of the human intelligence to defeat its own best interests--a tendency which is largely the product of solipsistic shortsightedness. Chapter six provides examples of this writing process as it occurs in particular essays. Explications of these essays then demonstrate the active vision which is the paper's major subject.
dc.format.extent ii, 245 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.other Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784. Rambler. en_US
dc.subject.other Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784 -- Criticism and interpretation. en_US
dc.title "Parallel circumstances, and kindred images" : the active vision in Samuel Johnson's Rambler en_US
dc.description.degree Thesis (M.A.)
dc.identifier.cardcat-url http://liblink.bsu.edu/catkey/392812 en_US


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  • Master's Theses [5510]
    Master's theses submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University master's degree candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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