Samuel Johnson, The Works of William Shakespeare

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Samuel Johnson’s desire to produce a scholarly edition of William Shakespeare’s plays began as a response to a long tradition of editorial meddling that dogged them for much of the eighteenth century. From Nicholas Rowe in 1709 to Alexander Pope in 1726, Shakespearean editors typically saw their role as translators/adaptors rather than editors in the modern sense. To that end, they took incredible liberties with the texts, often altering and paraphrasing passages to conform to contemporary notions of theater. In 1765, after more than a decade of editorial labor, Johnson published his own version with a now-famous


and a series of informative notes that virtually jumpstarted Shakespearean criticism. Though he refused to place Shakespeare on a pedestal, he affirmed the…

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Citation: Grasso, Joshua. "The Works of William Shakespeare". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 May 2019 [, accessed 29 May 2024.]

8217 The Works of William Shakespeare 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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