Preface to Shakespeare Additional Summary

Samuel Johnson


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Clingham, Greg. Johnson, Writing, and Memory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Examines Johnson’s writing and places it within the context of eighteenth century ideas about literature, history, fiction, and law, discussing the challenges that these ideas pose to twentieth and twenty-first century critical theory.

_______, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Collection of essays includes discussions of Johnson and the arts of conversation, poetry, and the essay as well as examination of his political views. The Preface to Shakespeare is discussed in Philip Smallwood’s essay “Shakespeare: Johnson’s Poet of Nature.”

Hart, Kevin. Samuel Johnson and the Culture of Property. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Examines Johnson’s literary legacy and reputation and analyzes the works of those biographers and critics who helped create the “Age of Johnson.” Asserts that James Boswell’s famous biography turned Johnson into a public monument.

Johnson, Samuel. Johnson’s “Preface to Shakespeare”: A Facsimile of the 1778 Edition with Introduction and Commentary by P. J. Smallwood. Edited by P. J. Smallwood. Bristol, England: Bristol Classical Press, 1985. Especially informative volume offers the full text of the Preface to Shakespeare along with extensive commentary by the editor aimed at elucidating every detail of Johnson’s work.

Martin, Peter. Samuel Johnson: A Biography. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008. Provides a psychological profile of Johnson, focusing on aspects of his personality and life that are not covered in Boswell’s biography, such as Johnson’s insecurities, bouts of deep depression, and self-doubt.

Parker, G. F. Johnson’s Shakespeare. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Contradicts the opinions of scholars who argue that Johnson’s interpretation of William Shakespeare has been superseded by subsequent critiques; explains why Johnson’s opinion that Shakespeare was “the poet of nature” remains a radical viewpoint.

Stock, R. D. Samuel Johnson and Neoclassical Dramatic Theory: The Intellectual Context of the “Preface to Shakespeare.” Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1973. Offers a lengthy, detailed review of the critical context that Johnson inherited and concludes with a close look at the Preface to Shakespeare.

Tomarken, Edward. A History of the Commentary on Selected Writings of Samuel Johnson. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1994. Provides an informative survey of what critics have said of Johnson’s Shakespeare criticism. Argues that Johnson’s work is a model of criticism that continues to offer valuable instruction.