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Samuel Johnson: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – April 15, 2009
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Brought up on a diet of comic books, tabloid newspapers, and football magazines (Shoot, Match Weekly, etc) and 'educated' in a Socialist-inspired 'comprehensive' school, I wasn't really equipped for my future career as an international journalist. But then something very strange and bewitching happened - I discovered 'THE DOCTOR,' as we acolytes refer to him, and started mentally working out on his long, finely wrought sentences.
At first, each seemingly interminable sentence was like trying to swim the English Channel - I thought I would drown before reaching the other end - but, somehow, I survived and found myself on dry land, confused and wet, but nevertheless alive and raring to have another go.
In the months that followed, the good doctor's erudite style became Mother's milk to me as I progressively beefed up my English. This enabled me to grab a place at the prestigious university of Thames Polytechnic and, then, on graduation, to a career writing for a wide range of excellent publications, including Riff Raff, Tokyo Notice Board, and the Wall Street Journal.
The great thing about THE DOCTOR's prose is that he uses a disproportionate number of abstract nouns, which means you have to mentally provide your own examples. At first this can be extremely challenging, but if you stick with it, your brain will become, as mine has, a potent and expressive tool.
It's a bit of a misnomer to call this anthology "The Major Works," because the principle guiding the original selection (under a different title) was to provide a diverse sampling of what he'd written -- and included items which would never be considered "major works" (such as a Latin school exercise and letters). They are worth reading, but not "major works." That having been said, as an *anthology* of Johnson's writings, this is the one to get.
Oxford's anthology of Samuel Johnson's writings is superior to Penguin's because it is more comprehensive, and displays more of his variety, as well as more of what he is known for. In comparison to the Penguin anthology, this collection includes all of Johnson's short fiction "Rasselas" (an excellent book -- read my review of it in the Penguin edition of Rasselas): Penguin will ask you to buy a separate copy of Rasselas on top of their anthology. In addition, Oxford's anthology offers extracts of "Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland" (Penguin has a separate volume of that, although there it is complete and coupled with Boswell's companion piece).
The Oxford anthology offers 40 periodic essays (Ramblers, Adventurers, & Idlers), a form for which he is well known; plus his prefaces to Shakespeare and the Dictionary; the major poems (chief among them "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes"); a sermon; an extract of a Parliamentarian debate; his Life of Boerhaave; his review of Soame Jenyn's "A Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil," his political pamphlet "The Patriot," an extract from a law lecture, extracts from "The Lives of The Poets", some letters... At over 800 pages, this is very comprehensive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
well worth it just for the fact it contains parts of the hard to find and expensive The Rambler" works. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Jonathan Williamson
I was required to buy this book in college and I love it. As a student of the neo-classical age, I must say Dr. Johnson is the glue that holds the period together. Read morePublished on August 21, 2012 by drohan00
Everyone knows Boswell's Life of Johnson, but if you want to know the man's works, this is the best place to start. Read morePublished on March 22, 2011 by greenhornet
There are reasons for getting hardback copies of these books - you don't break the spine at your first perusal for a start. Read morePublished on April 26, 2010 by Mr. Kevin C. Jones
Great book, but there is an edition problem where there are pages missing. I got 2 copies, same problem. They promised that they wouldn't charge, and they have. This sucks!Published on February 17, 2008 by Amazon Customer
This is the anthology to buy. Mona Wilson's collection from 1963 is also good, but the texts are less certain. Greene's annotations and bibliography are expert. Read morePublished on September 18, 2007 by Richard B. Schwartz
The case of Dr. Johnson is a strange one. On the one hand, the extent of his achievements, the magnetism of his personality, and the sheer strength of his genius has forever... Read morePublished on July 5, 2007 by Bati
Johnson's sentences are so beautifully composed that when reading him, I am apt to focus mainly on his sentence structures rather than what he says. Read morePublished on March 25, 2005 by Kazuma