Daily Archives: April 15, 2011

Johnson’s Dictionary

Samuel Johnson published his Dictionary of the English Language on this date in 1755.

Frye in “Rencontre: The General Editor’s Introduction”:

The third in this trio [the other two being Dryden and Swift] of the great age of prose Samuel Johnson, who, thanks to Boswell, is even more famous as a talker than as a writer. This is evidence, if we needed it, that the association of good prose style with good conversation is a social fact, not merely an educational ideal. As we should expect from the author of a dictionary, Johnson has an enormous vocubulary, and his use of it is a further indication of the growing polysyllabic quality of English speech, already mentioned. But though a formidable social figure, and satirized in his own day as “Pomposo,” he is not at all a pompous writer: he consistently directs his reader’s attention to the subject, not to himself. (CW 10, 60-1)