Cover image for The making of Johnson's dictionary, 1746-1773
Title:
The making of Johnson's dictionary, 1746-1773
Author:
Reddick, Allen Hilliard.
Personal Author:
Edition:
Revised and first paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, [1996]

©1996
Physical Description:
xxi, 252 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780521361606

9780521568388
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PE1617.J7 R4 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

As the first great English dictionary, and the only dictionary created by a great writer, Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language is recognised as a landmark in English language and letters. The heroic effort of the work's creation over nine years has long been enshrined in English literary mythology. However, details pertaining to Johnson's long years of work on his Dictionary are very scarce. With the recent discovery and deciphering of manuscript materials, including hundreds of unpublished revisions, Reddick describes the conception, composition, writing and subsequent revision of the Dictionary. Reddick argues that the Dictionary does not reflect Johnson's final thoughts on a fixed language, but rather constitutes a text in flux, changed repeatedly throughout Johnson's lifetime. He also contributes more generally to the biographical information about Johnson during these 'middle' years, and analyses the political and theological aspects of the work, attempting to determine how we 'read' Johnson's Dictionary.


Summary

Following the discovery of manuscript materials, including hundreds of unpublished additions and changes, for Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language, Allen Reddick describes the conception, composition, writing, and subsequent revision of the first great English dictionary, and the only dictionary created by a great writer. In this second edition of his acclaimed study, Reddick incorporates new commentary and scholarship, and situates The Making of Johnson's Dictionary in current critical and scholarly debate.


Reviews 2

Choice Review

Reddick (Harvard) has written an engaging account of the planning, composition, and revision of Samuel Johnson's great Dictionary of the English Language, a process he traces from its inception in 1746 to the publication of the fourth edition in 1773. The book might best be characterized as biographical narrative interspersed with bibliographic analysis. But it also contains, as the author points out, elements of "printing and publishing history, lexicographical theory and history, theological-political history, poetical criticism, (and) literary theory and history." Reddick's conclusions are based on a thorough examination of the Sneyd-Gimbel materials at Yale, a recently discovered treasure trove of printed and manuscript materials representing various stages in the composition of the Dictionary. A work of impressive scholarship, Reddick's book undoubtedly constitutes a solid contribution to our understanding of Samuel Johnson as lexicographer. And its readability testifies not only to the fascination of the story it tells but to the pains the author has taken to write vividly and clearly. Three appendixes contain bibliographic and historical analyses of the above-mentioned sources; notes are abundant and informative. Most likely to be used by faculty, graduate students, and upper-division undergradutes. -G. Scholtz, Wartburg College


Choice Review

Reddick (Harvard) has written an engaging account of the planning, composition, and revision of Samuel Johnson's great Dictionary of the English Language, a process he traces from its inception in 1746 to the publication of the fourth edition in 1773. The book might best be characterized as biographical narrative interspersed with bibliographic analysis. But it also contains, as the author points out, elements of "printing and publishing history, lexicographical theory and history, theological-political history, poetical criticism, (and) literary theory and history." Reddick's conclusions are based on a thorough examination of the Sneyd-Gimbel materials at Yale, a recently discovered treasure trove of printed and manuscript materials representing various stages in the composition of the Dictionary. A work of impressive scholarship, Reddick's book undoubtedly constitutes a solid contribution to our understanding of Samuel Johnson as lexicographer. And its readability testifies not only to the fascination of the story it tells but to the pains the author has taken to write vividly and clearly. Three appendixes contain bibliographic and historical analyses of the above-mentioned sources; notes are abundant and informative. Most likely to be used by faculty, graduate students, and upper-division undergradutes. -G. Scholtz, Wartburg College


Table of Contents

Preface Cue-titles
1 Introduction; Johnson's 'Mind ... on the Stretch': A Dictionary of the English Language
2 'The plan of my undertaking': the composition and purpose of the Plan of a Dictionary
3 'I can do it in three years': a false start to the Dictionary
4 'Ended, though not Completed': the first edition published
5 'I know not how to get loose': the Fourth Edition
6 'Unexpected truth': the use of poetical authorities
7 'Factious in a factious age: theology and politics in the fourth edition
8 'The world must, at present, take it as it is': Johnson's Dictionary after 1773
Appendix A description of the Sneyd-Gimbel materials
Appendix B description of the British Library copy
Appendix C provenance and history of the Sneyd-Gimbel and British Library copies
Preface Cue-titles
1 Introduction; Johnson's 'Mind ... on the Stretch': A Dictionary of the English Language
2 'The plan of my undertaking': the composition and purpose of the Plan of a Dictionary
3 'I can do it in three years': a false start to the Dictionary
4 'Ended, though not Completed': the first edition published
5 'I know not how to get loose': the Fourth Edition
6 'Unexpected truth': the use of poetical authorities
7 'Factious in a factious age: theology and politics in the fourth edition
8 'The world must, at present, take it as it is': Johnson's Dictionary after 1773
Appendix A description of the Sneyd-Gimbel materials
Appendix B description of the British Library copy
Appendix C provenance and history of the Sneyd-Gimbel and British Library copies

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