The Life and Works of Samuel Johnson Essay

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The Life and Works of Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson, a prominent English writer of the early eighteenth century, brought vivid life to the literary realm of that era. He is known by many to be a writer of great intellect, thought, and positive influence in the writings of literary to follow. Johnson has been hailed as a literary giant in his day, as well as in present times. Samuel Johnson is a great writer because of the critical approval of specific elements, namely satire, the moral romance, and the biography.

The first element for which the critics have praised Johnson is his powerful satire. Johnson's best example of this is displayed in his work The Vanity of Human Wishes. In this
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In The Vanity of Human Wishes, Johnson clearly expounds on his views toward life using well-embodied satire.

Another element for which the critics have praised Johnson is his moral romance. A moral romance in eighteenth century literature is equivalent to the modern-day adventure. Samuel Johnson's Rasselas is his most famous work in the category of moral romance. The Arabian Nights served as Johnson's primary source of thought in developing this work. In Rasselas, "the story serves merely as the connecting thread of a series of moral disquisitions, but no attempt is made to solve the problem of life,"2 says Albert Perry Walker. As Johnson incorporates moral dilemmas in his piece, he draws parallels from The Vanity of Human Wishes. In Johnson and English Poetry Before 1660 by W. B. C. Watkins he says, "There is in all Johnson's work, scholarly, critical, creative, a striking unity, proceeding from the clarity of his mind and purpose, from the integration of personality and age. This unity, which is very important, is sometimes misinterpreted as rigid conformance to rule."3 Johnson's literary style was by all means unprecedented in that he seemed to surprise his readers by developing a basic theme and then implementing underlying principles concerning morality. Rasselas, in turn, is such a praised work in that Samuel Johnson was able to

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