Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol 14: Sermons

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Works of Samuel Johnson, Vol 14: Sermons
The surviving sermons of Samuel Johnson, presented in a scholarly edition for the first time

It has been known since the publication of pre-Boswellian biographies that Samuel Johnson wrote sermons that were preached by others. The twenty-eight that have survived are presented here in their first scholarly edition, with full explanations and textual notes. They include a hitherto unpublished manuscript sermon and the celebrated Convict's Address to His Unhappy Brethren, written for the notorious forger Dr. William Dodd for delivery to his fellow prisoners on the eve of his execution at Newgate.

In the sermons one finds the famous Johnsonian rhetoric and logic applied to such subjects as marriage and friendship, the meaning of moral and physical evil, the need to adjust punishment so that it fits the crime, and the desirability of tradition in religion. Equally eloquent are Johnson's indignant and fiery attacks on intellectual pride, "the vanity of human wishes," perjury, defamation, fraud, skepticism, and infidelity.

In their introduction, the editors discuss the circumstances surrounding the composition, preaching, and publication of the sermons. Certain to interest students of Johnson's thought, this volume should also appeal to those concerned with the development of English style and with the venerable and once admired English homiletical tradition.

Publication Date: 
September 10, 1978