Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, the first great English dictionary and one of the most famous books in the English language, appeared in April 1755. To commemorate the 250th anniversary, this volume brings together fourteen original essays by international scholars representing several disciplines: literature, lexicology, linguistics and bibliography. The essays explore familiar and unfamiliar aspects of Johnson's masterpiece, ranging from the history of patronage to the book's typographical design, from the political background to the treatment of compound words. Challenging the myths surrounding the book and offering the most comprehensive and wide-ranging study of the Dictionary ever attempted, these essays present fresh scholarship on the Dictionary and open up novel perspectives and directions for future research.
• This volume celebrated the 250th anniversary of the first publication of Johnson's Dictionary • Brings together specialists from different fields, including literature, lexicology and bibliography • This volume presents the latest and most authoritative research by leading scholars on the Dictionary
List of illustrations; List of contributors; List of abbreviations and cue-titles; Introduction Jack Lynch and Anne McDermott; 1. The mythology of Johnson's Dictionary Paul J. Korshin; 2. Dictionaries and power from Palsgrave to Johnson Ian Lancashire; 3. What Johnson's illustrative quotations illustrate: language and viewpoint in the Dictionary Howard D. Weinbrot; 4. Reassessing the political context of the Dictionary: Johnson and the 'Broad-bottom' opposition Nicholas Hudson; 5. Johnson's extempore history and grammar of the English language Robert DeMaria Jr; 6. Johnson the prescriptivist? The case for the prosecution Geoff Barnbrook; 7. Johnson the prescriptivist? The case for the defense Anne McDermott; 8. Johnson's encyclopedia Jack Lynch; 9. The law, the alphabet, and Samuel Johnson John Stone; 10. Hyphenated compounds in Johnson's Dictionary Noel E. Osselton; 11. The typographic design of Johnson's Dictionary Paul Luna; 12. The Dictionary in abstract: Johnson's abridgements of the Dictionary of the English Language for the common reader Catherine Dille; 13. Revision and the limits of collaboration: hands and texts in Johnson's Dictionary Allen Reddick; 14. Hidden quarto editions of Johnson's Dictionary R. Carter Hailey; General index; Index of Dictionary entries.
'This book is an essential addition to any serious collection in the field of English studies or bibliography.' Rare Books Newsletter
'The Dictionary owes not all but most of the attention that it receives to the fact that it is Johnson's, one more work to be read for evidence of his peculiarities, hobby horses, and strengths or weaknesses. It is good to find the Dictionary investigated and discussed here for itself, as a book - a hugely influential work of reference that can be seen in other contexts besides the biographical. … The effect of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, for each paper offers access to a way of thinking and to a range of sources that may be new to the exclusively literary, bibliographical, or lexicographical reader.' The Times Literary Supplement