To mark the tercentenary of Samuel Johnson's birth in 2009, the specially-commissioned essays contained here review his scholarly reputation. An international team of experts reflects authoritatively on the various dimensions of literary, historical, critical and ethical life touched by Johnson's extraordinary achievement. The volume distinctively casts its net widely and combines consistently innovative thinking on Johnson's historical role with a fresh sense of present criticism. Chapters cover subjects as diverse as Johnson's moral philosophy, his legal thought, his influence on Jane Austen, and the question of the Johnson canon. The contributors examine the larger theoretical and scholarly contexts in which it is now possible to situate his work, and from which it may often be necessary to differentiate it. All the contributors have a distinguished record of scholarship in eighteenth-century studies, Johnson scholarship, and cultural history and theory.
Introduction. Johnson now and in time Greg Clingham and Philip Smallwood; 1. 'We are perpetually moralists': Johnson and moral philosophy Fred Parker; 2. Johnson, ends, and the possibility of happiness Greg Clingham; 3. Johnson and the modern: the forward face of Janus Howard D. Weinbrot; 4. Samuel Johnson's politics of contingency Clement Hawes; 5. Fideism, the antisublime, and the faithful imagination in Rasselas David F. Venturo; 6. Samuel Johnson's legal thought J. T. Scanlan; 7. The life of Johnson, The Life of Johnson, the lives of Johnson Jack Lynch; 8. The awkward Johnson David Fairer; 9. Johnson's criticism, the arts, and the idea of art Philip Smallwood; 10. Toil and envy: unsuccessful responses to Johnson's Lives of the Poets Adam Rounce; 11. Early women reading Johnson Isobel Grundy; 12. Johnson and Austen Freya Johnston; 13. The Works of Samuel Johnson and the Canon O. M. Brack, Jr.; 14. What Johnson means to me David Ferry.