Download PDF by Patrick Parrinder: Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism

By Patrick Parrinder

ISBN-10: 0333432959

ISBN-13: 9780333432952

ISBN-10: 1349214795

ISBN-13: 9781349214792

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Extra resources for Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750–1990

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The degree of unity among its members was a good deal less than could be found in most academic communities today; Johnson himself was not above remarking that some of his colleagues deserved hanging for their political and religious views. 4 The exact nature of Johnson's authority over this dining club is hard to determine, since we rely so heavily on Boswell's glowing accounts. There is no doubt, however, that the legend of the Club contributed to the hardening of his reputation as a literary dictator after his death.

Johnson, whether he knew it or not, played an important part in the change of meaning, and he was also influential in propagating the neologism 'literary' . This word does not figure in the Dictionary (1755). But in 1756 Johnson was connected with the Literary Magazine, and in 1779, after the death of Garrick, his own Club was christened the Literary Club. Johnson used 'literature' occasionally in the Lives of the Poets in a sense incompatible with his Dictionary definition, and - more importantly - he had much earlier shown a liking for the word in an elevated and patriotic context, as in this famous sentence from the Preface to the Dictionary: The chief glory of every people arises from its authors: whether I shall add any thing by my own writings to the reputation of English literature, must be left to time ...

Rambler no. Johnson 37 The author, that is, does not contribute to a 'culture' or social totality, but puts himself forward in a market-place or competitive arena. This view shares the individualism of bourgeois economics, and is a celebration of 'equality of opportunity' within a constituted but not a corporate state. In historical terms, Johnson's constitutionalism stands between the absolutism of two critical systems, the early neoclassical and the romantic. His chosen method of critical biography involves an impressive compromise between the permanent hierarchy of the literary academy and the pure democracy of the contemporary market-place.

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Authors and Authority: English and American Criticism 1750–1990 by Patrick Parrinder


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