How does Samuel Johnson  affirm William Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads in The Rambler?Comparing only the following text from The Rambler by Johnson to the Preface of Lyrical Ballads by...

How does Samuel Johnson  affirm William Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads in The Rambler?

Comparing only the following text from The Rambler by Johnson to the Preface of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth: "The task of an author is, either to teach what is not known, or to recommend known truths by his mannert of adorning them; either to let new light in upon the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, or to vay the dress and situation of common objects, so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful attractions, to spread such flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things hastily passed over, or negligently regarded."

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Samuel Johnson had a neo classical style and it was thus peculiar that he found an affinity with Wordsworth's Romanticism.However, the simplicity that he found in Wordsworth who

believed that the sole purpose of poetry is to render pleasure in the mind of the reader.

and his belief in composing poetry for pleasure led to a mutual understanding. Additionally, Johnson’s views on the

need of moral purpose in a poetic composition

coupled with his accepted definition of imagination deliver a striking resemblance to Wordsworth's own beliefs.

In comparing the passage above with Preface to Lyrical Ballads, the reader has to understand Wordsworth's 'theory,' involving what he considers prerequisites: that pleasure can be gained from 'real' language and

vivid sensation

Calling on everyday routine events and circumstances and presenting them

in an usual way

for more than common pleasure

placing emphasis on the best use of the imagination to

throw a certain coloring over

otherwise mundane descriptions. The description below is Wordsworth's and in the brackets (bold font) are the words from Samuel Johnson. As you can see they both have similar descriptions of what a poet should be:

a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, (to recommend known truths by his manner of adorning them)

 more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; (to let new light in upon the mind, and open new scenes to the prospect, )

a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him (to spread such flowers over the regions through which the intellect has already made its progress, as may tempt it to return, and take a second view of things hastily passed over, or negligently regarded.  

Wordsworth concludes that

poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility

and Samuel Johnson, in a similar vane stresses how important it is

(to vay the dress and situation of common objects, so as to give them fresh grace and more powerful attractions)

Samuel Johnson wished that he may be

numbered among the writers who have given ardour to virtue, and confidence to truth.

 

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