Spring 1956 • Vol. XVIII No. 2 Book ReviewsApril 1, 1956 |

The Uses of Dr. Johnson

The Achievement Of Samuel Johnson by Walter Jackson Bate. Oxford. $4.50. The able corrective supplied by studies like those of W. K. Wimsatt, Bertrand Bronson, and J. H. Hagstrum, aimed mainly at specialists, has not entirely expunged the distorted 19th Century image of Dr. Johnson the man, the prose artist, the critic. In certain quarters still—quarters which Mr. Bate's book happily bids fair to penetrate—the old caricature lingers: of his intellect uniting "great powers with low prejudices" (Macaulay), his criticism, except for the Lives, "pretty nearly obsolete," and his style, though "masculine," offensively mannered and abstract (Sir Leslie Stephen). The Achievement of Samuel Johnson should be welcomed as a needed summa of the revised modern estimate. But it is more. than that. Mr. Bate's emphasis honors Johnson's peculiar double claim to our attention. "This is the greatness of Johnson," Sir Walter Raleigh observed, "that he is greater than his works. He thought of

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Rationalist in Hell

By Thomas H. Carter

The Achievement Of Samuel Johnson by Walter Jackson Bate. Oxford. $4.50. The able corrective supplied by studies like those of W. K. Wimsatt, Bertrand Bronson, and J. H. Hagstrum, aimed […]

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