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Library Journal Review
In his introduction, Martin (Samuel Johnson: A Biography) eloquently contends that, with the exception of Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson is the one writer who must be read and not merely read about. Praising Johnson as a great moralist and thinker, Martin notes that his genius resides in his ability to present himself to his readers not as a preacher but as a man who has thought deeply and encourages his readers to do the same. This collection of Johnson's works, published to mark the 300th anniversary of his birth, focuses on those pieces that best illustrate the depth of Johnson's skill as a moral thinker and critic-a number of essays from the Rambler, Adventurer, and Idler are included as well as excerpts from Lives of the Poets and the prefaces to the Dictionary of the English Language and his Shakespeare edition. Martin also selected the moral fable Rasselas, for its ability to speak to readers of today. Verdict Students of English literature and general readers should find much pleasure and insight in this collection. Highly recommended.-Anthony Pucci, Notre Dame H.S., Elmira, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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 (CH, Jul'09, 46-6058). He has included a representative number of Johnson's essays, arranged under subheadings (for example, "Morality," "Politics," "Death"). He also includes the moral fable Rasselas, long the most popular of Johnson's works, and selections from the critical writing, including excerpts from the prefaces to the Dictionary of the English Language and the The Lives of the English Poets and the entire "Preface" to The Plays of Shakespeare. As Martin makes evident in his introduction, the Johnson who emerges from these selections--moralist, psychologist, critic--is in keeping with the view of Johnson held since the middle of the 20th century. Though in the bibliography Martin points the reader toward more recent and revisionary critical investigation, he gives these views little space in this volume. As an introduction to Johnson, this book serves well; those who teach Johnson at the college level will continue to prefer Samuel Johnson: The Major Works, ed. by Donald Greene (2000). Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. C. S. Vilmar Salisbury University