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Towson - FORL 221 - Class Notes - Week 16

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Towson - FORL 221 - Class Notes - Week 16

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background image Samuel Johnson 1. Background Age of Johnson­ pre­eminent literary critic of the 18 th  century Style
­ Balanced: symmetry, parallelism
­ Concise prose: brief sentences
­ Criticism and biographical writing  2. The Preface to Shakespeare Expresses representative/universal human nature or experience  reader can find 
enjoyment through finding self in the work
­ “Nothing can please many, and please long, but just representations of general 
nature” 
­ “genuine progeny of common humanity” (2938) ­ “too often an individual: in those of Shakespeare it is commonly a species” Underestimates the importance of love (2939) ­ “He knew that any other passion, as it was regular or exorbitant, was a cause of 
happiness or calamity” 
No heroes in his works  ­ “Shakespeare has no heroes” (meaning no superhuman/archetypical heroes, rather
than lacking virtue)
­ BUT if the common person is a hero, than everyone is a hero (so no defining  heroes)  Unlike him, Shakespeare has faith in individual thought No moral purpose (his works entertain but don’t instruct­ countering Horace’s dulce 
et utile values of both)
­ “He who thinks reasonably must think morally” and “no just distribution of good 
and evil” 
a. BUT people aren’t always this way (due to the very human dignity he just 
praised…)  ­ Johnson believed that the writer is a public person and thus should write for the  common good.
a.  did not believe in a discerning reader
Poor comedic scenes (vulgarity) 
­ He believed that vulgarity should not be expressed in the upper classes (but could 
be expressed with the lower class characters)­ 2940. The 3 unities of the tragic plays
­ Time: in real time (no time lapses)
­ Place: consistency (one setting)
­ Action: serious, complex, of a certain magnitude 

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School: Towson University
Department: Foreign Language
Course: British Literature to 1798
Professor: K. Attie
Term: Summer 2015
Tags: Johnson, Preface, to, and Shakespeare
Name: Week 13 Notes (finals week!)
Description: Samuel Johnson's The Preface to Shakespeare
Uploaded: 05/10/2016
2 Pages 11 Views 8 Unlocks
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