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Samuel Johnson


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About the Author

Peter Martin has taught English on both sides of the Atlantic and is the author of A Life of James Boswell and Samuel Johnson: A Biography.


Readers should find much pleasure and insight in this collection. -- Anthony Pucci * Library Journal *
We see in [Johnson's] essays the tiny brushwork of brilliant self-portraiture; we hear the rhythm of moral seriousness, the sound of contemplation as it engages with the questions of how to live and how to manage in the face of death. But most of all we feel the reach of an author--a writer attempting to reach past self-doubt, poverty, cant, and orthodoxy, in order to assert the power of individual authorship and free thinking in the face of more nebulous authorities. Samuel Johnson may have failed often enough to be personable, but he nevertheless freed subjectivity...and brought both dignity and self-sufficiency to the writing game, allowing authors to be who they chose to be, unshackled from patronage and the requirement to please great men. We see it in his essays and we see it again in his Lives of the Poets: a writer's writer, beckoning individual creative power out of the mire of dependency, making the work answerable only to high standards of excellence stringently applied. -- Andrew O'Hagan * New York Review of Books *
This handsome book, with its fine printing and striking cover, commemorates the 2009 tercentennial of Johnson's birth by introducing uninitiated readers to the most accessible of his writing, Martin satisfies this aim well, producing a title that serves as a companion to his Samuel Johnson: A Biography. -- C. S. Vilmar * Choice *
Peter Martin, who joined the crowded ranks of Johnson's biographers last year, has given us a fair representation of [his] works here...Harvard Press deserves lavish praise for producing a handsome, well-made edition. -- Barton Swaim * Weekly Standard *

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