The Lives of the Poets: A Selection

The Lives of the Poets: A Selection

Paperback Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)

By (author) Samuel Johnson, Edited by Roger Lonsdale

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 560 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 38mm | 399g
  • Publication date: 3 August 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford
  • ISBN 10: 0199226741
  • ISBN 13: 9780199226740
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 319,007

Product description

'If a man is to write A Panegyrick, he may keep vices out of sight; but if he professes to write A Life, he must represent it really as it was.' In the last of his major writings, Samuel Johnson looked back over the previous two centuries of English Literature in order to describe the personalities as well as the achievements of the leading English poets. The major Lives - of Milton, Dryden, Swift, and Pope - are memorable cameos of the life of writing in which Johnson is as attentive to human frailty as to literary prowess. The shorter Lives preserve some of Johnson's most piercing, critical judgements. Unsentimental, opinionated, and quotable, The Lives of the Poets continues to influence the reputations of the writers concerned. It is one of the greatest works of English criticism, but also one of the most humanly diverting. This selection of the Lives of ten of the most important poets draws its text from Roger Lonsdale's authoritative complete edition. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Author information

John Mullan teaches at University College London. He is a broadcaster and literary journalist, with a weekly column on fiction for the Guardian newspaper. He has edited Defoe's Roxana for OWC, and is the author of How Novels Work (OUP, 2006) and Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (Faber, 2007).

Review quote

It's fascinating...a mightily entertaining survey of literature and literati. Sunday Telegraph The 'Lives of the Poets', combining mournfully droll biography with brilliant literary criticism, is as enjoyable as anything he wrote. John Mullan, Saturday Guardian

Table of contents

Cowley ; Milton ; Rochester ; Dryden ; Congreve ; Gay ; Savage ; Swift ; Pope ; Gray