This definitive edition, the first since 1974, presents all the poetry of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), including his play, Irene, with detailed wide-ranging commentary. It has been expertly edited with attention to the extant manuscripts and all relevant printings.
The volume includes the entirety of Johnson’s verse in all its generic diversity: including satire, ode, elegy, verse drama, and verse prayer. The poems are presented in their original spelling and punctuation with extensive commentary on their literary background—biblical, classical, and modern—as well as careful explanation of unusual words, allusions to historical figures, and references to contemporary events that appear in the poems. Proceeding chronologically, this edition also situates Johnson’s verse in the context of his life from his early days in Lichfield to his career as an author in London.
Unlike all earlier editions, the present offering provides full translations of all the Latin and Greek poems on which Johnson based so much of his English verse. Correspondingly, it provides the English poems which some of his Latin verse translates. Neither in the presentation of the verse nor in the commentary does this edition assume a command of foreign languages: it aims to be useful for all students of Samuel Johnson’s poetry.