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Samuel Johnson – The Arc of the Pendulum - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Samuel Johnson: The Arc of the Pendulum

Freya Johnston and Lynda Mugglestone


In 1819, William Hazlitt condemned Samuel Johnson's prose style as ‘a species of rhyming’ in which ‘the close of the period follows as mechanically as the oscillation of a pendulum, the sense is balanced with the sound.’ Predictable, formulaic, and unresponsive, Hazlitt's Johnson was a ‘complete balance-master,’ incapable of latitude and compromise, a mere automaton who rebounded from one position to its opposite extreme. Johnson, Hazlitt argued, ‘never encourages hope, but he counteracts it by fear; he never elicits a truth, but he suggests some objection in answer to it.’ This volume sets ou ... More

Keywords: Samuel Johnson, William Hazlitt, eighteenth century, criticism, biography, lexicography, style, authority, language, flux

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2012 Print ISBN-13: 9780199654345
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654345.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Freya Johnston, editor
University Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow in English Language and Literature, St Anne's College, Oxford

Lynda Mugglestone, editor
Professor of the History of English, University of Oxford