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Preface to Shakespeare

Samuel Johnson

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .a wearisome train of circumlocution, and tells the incident imperfectly in many words, which might have been more plainly delivered in few. Narration in dramatick poetry is, naturally tedious, as it is unanimated and inactive, and obstructs the progress of the action; it should therefore always be rapid, and enlivened by frequent interruption. Shakespeare found it an encumbrance, and instead of lightening it by brevity, endeavoured to recommend it by dignity and splendour.

His declamations or set speeches are commonly cold and weak, for his power was the power of nature; when he endeavoured, like other tragick writers, to catch opportunities of amplification, and instead of inquiring what the occasion demanded, to show how much his stores of knowledge could supply, he seldom escapes without the pity or resentment of his reader.

It is incident to him to be now and then entangled with an unwieldy sentiment, which he cannot well express, and will . . . Read More

Community Reviews

No vale la pena leerlo si no lees las obras después

Lo compré para apoyar mi curso monográfico de Shakespeare en la u y literal todo lo que dice, mi profe lo explicó en clases. Las cinco estrellas van para ella

longevity of popularity, realism of characterization, mingling of tragedy and comedy, naturalness and modernity of dialogue.

"The work of a correct and regular writer is a garden accurately formed and diligently planted, varied with shades, and scented with flowers; the composition of Shakespeare is

Una exquisitez leer esta lectura crítica de Shakespeare escrita en el siglo XVIII. La pluma de Samuel Johnson era, además de sagaz, amable. Siempre habrá ganas de releer a Shakespeare y de leer aquello que ni siquiera sabía que existía.

Samuel Johnson’s Preface to Shakespeare was not meant to be read absent his version of the Shakespeare plays. That there are or were versions is not something I had ever considered, but it is a main topic for Samuel Johnson. In this essay he is initially an insightful, more like an insider critic of

The fact that this (fre)e-book was supplemented by a selection of Johnson's notes to Shakespeare makes me suspect that it was transcribed from an actual book, the kind of short, hardbound 'student edition' used by colleges and maybe high schools in the 1920s.

(I can see it in my mind's eye)

At any ra

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