Samuel Johnson: The Vanity of Human Wishes (1752 words)


Samuel Johnson’s celebrated poem “The Vanity of Human Wishes” appeared anonymously in 1749, and was instrumental in helping him escape the garrets of Grub Street and become famous himself. Though anonymous, most of his friends and admirers could recognize the same hand that wrote his earlier poem ”London” (1738) and The Life of Mr. Richard Savage (1744), so a signature was scarcely required. Perhaps the most telling signpost was the subtitle of the poem, “The Tenth Satire of Juvenal Imitated”, which linked it to “London”, another imitation of Juvenal, in that case his Third Satire. The form of “imitation”, widely practiced in eighteenth-century …

Citation: Grasso, Joshua. "The Vanity of Human Wishes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 April 2019 [, accessed 22 October 2020.]

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