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SAMUEL JOHNSON

Life
Johnson was the son of a small bookseller, so he could read many authors in his father’s shop.
He entered in Oxford University but because of poverty and illness he was compelled to left Oxford without engratuating.
He win fame like a poet, critic and lexicographer, but, above at all as an essayist.
Samuel Johnson was the first great writer of transition period: born in Augustan age, he died when the earliest ferments of romanticism appeared.
His most important work is “the preface to Shakespeare”

On Shakespeare
In the preface to Shakespeare Johnson defended freedom of imagination in drama, attacking the classical idea, of the three unities ( unity of time, place and narration), introduced by Corneille, and saying that real dramatic truth is “imaginative truth”.
In Johnson opinion, the necessity of observing the unities of time and place arises from the supposed necessity of make the drama credible.

He also admired Shakespeare’s love and knowledge of nature and humanity (this was not considered in Augustian Age).
Johnson sow in Shakespeare a great moral teacher rather than a great poet and he prepared the way for the Shakespearean criticism of the Romantic Age.

Johnson’s personality

Johnson was a great talker and a precursor of new way of thinking.
He was well known for his sympathy towards poor and dispossessed.
He wrote that luxury, avarice, violence, injustice and ambition took place in populous cities.
The “honest farmer” lived in a happy state which inclined him to sincerity, temperance, sensibility, innocence and all the virtues that can dignify the human nature.

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