A new standard edition for three works by Samuel Johnson: Rasselas, “The Vision of Theodore,” and “The Fountains”
This volume brings together three of Johnson’s longest fictional pieces, showing the unusual similarities in some of their main themes and emphases. Rasselas, a philosophical tale that embodies the full range of Johnson’s thinking on moral, psychological, and literary matters, has been described as central to an understanding of Johnson and his age. “The Vision of Theodore,” a moral allegory, and “The Fountains,” a fairy tale, demonstrate the variety of Johnson’s narrative skills.
The three works are introduced and annotated by Gwin J. Kolb, an authority on Rasselas. The introductions set the scene surrounding the creation and printing of the texts and cover a wider range of topics than has been addressed in previous editions. And the historical notes, which concentrate on clarifying the meaning of numerous words, comprise the largest body of glosses that has ever accompanied the three pieces. The textual notes provide a record of Johnson’s revisions of Rasselas and of Mrs. Piozzi’s manuscript transcription of “The Fountains.” This book will be the standard edition of these notable works.
Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) was a poet, essayist, biographer, and editor. Gwin J. Kolb is Chester D. Tripp Professor Emeritus in Humanities, University of Chicago.
“Splendid. . . . The new edition of Rasselas is the fullest to date, long-awaited and worth waiting for, with lucid and informative introductions to the three works it brings together, and a valuable commentary.”—Claude Rawson, London Review of Books
“We can rejoice in a perfectly edited Rasselas. . . . Kolb points to significant Johnsonian parallels just sufficiently to inform or remind readers of necessary points for comparison. . . . By inviting attention to previous works on related issues, the notes provide too, with wonderful economy, nice exercises in that intellectual history that Johnson so much encouraged and was perhaps the first to name. . . . [Kolb’s] index is remarkably complete [and] will be of maximum use to all Johnsonians, as will the volumes as a whole.”—Paul Alkon, Johnsonian News Letter
“There is no question in my mind that all scholars and critics in the field will recognize this edition as the most authoritative and reliable one and an invaluable repository of Johnson scholarship.”—Edward Tomarken, The Eighteenth Century: A Current Bibliography
“Kolb’s extensive knowledge of Johnson’s work and reading . . . [results in] a definitive account of Johnson’s complex psychology as well as his conscious intention. . . . Undoubtedly, Kolb’s synoptic knowledge of Johnson’s writing will help future commentators assess the satiric as well as the personal qualities of his narrative works.”—Nigel Wood, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
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