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Studies ofJohnson's Dictionary, 1956-199O1 Gwin J. KoIb A he appearance of Allen Reddick's The Making ofJohnson's "Dictionary," 1746-1773 (1990)2 affords an appropriate opportunity to survey the principal discrete studies of the famous lexicon (including the Plan [1747]) issued since 1955, the two-hundredth anniversary of its birth on April 15, 1755. The bicentennial was marked by the publication of one book and several articles and a special exhibit at Columbia University. The period from 1956 through 1990 witnessed the appearance of four books and well over a hundred articles and notes. Classification of the essays by topics reveals that the largest number deal with the earlier traditions and sources of various parts—wordlist, etymologies , definitions, illustrative quotations, etc.—of the Dictionary. The more inclusive of this group are: W. R. Keast, "The Two Clarissas in Johnson's Dictionary," Studies in PhiMogy, 54 (1957), 429-39; David McCracken , "The Drudgery of Defining: Johnson's Debt to Bailey's Dictionarium Britannicum," Modern PhiMogy, 66 (1960), 338-41; Gwin and Ruth A. KoIb, "The Selection and Use of the Illustrative Quotations in Dr. Johnson's Dictionary," New Aspects ofLexicography, ed. Howard D. Weinbrot (Carbondale, 1972), 61-72; and James McLaverty, "From Definition to Explanation: Locke's Influence on Johnson's Dictionary," Journal ofthe History ofIdeas, 47 (1986), 377-94. The next two largest groups of articles are devoted, respectively , to general discussions of the Dictionary and Johnson's notions about language. Of the former pieces, the most noteworthy seem to me to be: John P. Hardy, " 'Dictionary'Johnson," Inaugural Lecture at University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales (Armidale, N.S.W, 1967); W K. Wimsatt, "Johnson's Dictionary," The Day of the Leopard: Essays in Defense ofPoems (New Haven, 1976), 162-80 (included earlier in New LigAi on Dr. Johnson, ed. Frederick W. Hilles [New 114Gwin J. KoIb Haven, 1959]); and J. D. Fleeman, "Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, 1755," Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784: A Bicentenary Exhibition, introd. Kai Kin Yung (London, 1984), 37-45. Of the latter, the most revealing, in my opinion, are: Rackstraw Downes, "Johnson's Theory of Language," Review ofEngluh Literature, 3 (1962), 29-41; Robert DeMaria, Jr., "The Theory of Language in Johnson's Dictionary,"Johnson After Two Hundred Years, ed. Paul Korshin (Philadelphia, 1986), 159-74; and Elizabeth Hedrick, "Locke's Theory of Language andJohnson's Dictionary," Eighteenth-Century Studies, 20 (1987), 422-44. Third in quantity are pieces on (1) responses (including later dictionaries) to the Dictionary and (2) Johnson's treatment of specific words. The most informative articles in group one are, I think, the following: Joseph W. Reed, Jr., "Noah Webster's Debt to Samuel Johnson," American Speech, 37 (1962), 95-105; and J. E. Congleton, "Sir Herbert Croft on Revising Johnson's Dictionary," Tennessee Studies in Englüh, 13 (1968), 49-62. The most substantial member of group two is: Donald T Sieben, "Bubbled, Bamboozled, and Bit: 'Low Bad' Words in Johnson's Dictionary," Studies in English Literature, 26 (1986), 485-96, which also falls in the category below dubbed Johnson's "prescriptivism ." The aggregation ofdiscussions of the Plan of the Dictionary, the Preface, and Johnson's relations with Lord Chesterfield—interwoven topics—forms the next largest number of articles. Six certainly merit places in this survey: Scott Elledge, "The Naked Science of Language, 1747-1786," Studies in Critichm and Aesthetics, 1660-1800: Essays in Honor of Samuel Holt Monk, ed. Howard Anderson and John S. Shea (Minneapolis, 1967), 266-95; Paul J. Korshin, "The JohnsonChesterfield Relationship: A New Hypothesis," PMLA, 85 (1970), 247-59;Jacob Leed, "Johnson and Chesterfield: 1746-47," in Studies in Burke and Hh Time, 12 (1970), 1677-90 (see also the exchange between Leed and Korshin, ibid., 12 [1970-71], 1804-11; 13 [1971], 2011-15); Leo Braudy, "Lexicography and Biography in the Preface toJohnson's Dictionary," Studies in Englüh Literature, 10 (1970), 551-56; Howard D. Weinbrot, "Samuel Johnson's Plan and the Preface to the Dictionary," New Aspects of Lexicography, ed. Howard D. Weinbrot (Carbondale, 1972), 73-94; and Elizabeth Hedrick, "Fixing the Language: Johnson , Chesterfield, and The Plan of a Dictionary," ELH, 55 (1988), 421-42. The...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 113-126
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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