The Politics of Samuel Johnson

Donald Greene
Second Edition


"This provocative book exposes what it justly calls 'one of the great hoaxes of literary history.' Its original and wholly substantiated these are that Samuel Johnson was not a Tory, and that in his time Tories weren't Tories anyway-not, at least, in the sense we attach to that term today. . . . Greene's book sheds bright new light on the politics of the period from which our own institutions emerged."
—Herman W. Liebert, New York Herald Tribune Book Review

"This is an admirable, forthright, trenchant book. . . . Greene has put all who love eighteenth-century scholarship in his debt, and he has given, what so many have failed to do, a new dimension to Johnsonian studies."
—J. H. Plumb, Saturday Review

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First published in 1960, The Politics of Samuel Johnson remains one of the most significant studies of Johnson ever written. Contrary to virtually all preceding studies of Johnson's life, politics, and art, Donald Greene declared that the popular image of Johnson—one that even pervaded academic circles—was a caricature, an amalgam of misconceptions, inaccuracies, and sometimes deliberate untruths drawn from the works of his well-intentioned friend Boswell and his detractor Macaulay.

In the Introduction to the second edition, Greene reasserts—in light of three decades of Johnsonian scholarship—his attack on the stereotyping of Johnson as a bigoted, party-line Tory and a crypto-Jacobite. Utilizing new material such as Thomas Curley's edition of the Chambers/Johnson Vinerian law lectures and the sale catalogue to Johnson's library to support his argument, Greene also warns that Johnson is still misquoted and misunderstood in situations from classroom lectures to discussions of Britain's role in the 1982 Falklands War.

Page count: 440 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $32.95

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Donald Greene is the Leo S. Bing Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Southern California. He has served as editor of several volumes of Johnson's writings and, along with James L. Clifford and John A. Vance, has compiled bibliographies of Johnsonian studies. Among his earlier books is The Age of Exuberance: Backgrounds to Eighteenth-Century English Literature.