An article in the Times Literary Supplement reminds us–okay, I never knew it in the first place–that 2009 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Johnson. It also reviews a cleverly titled book,Samuel Johnson at 300 along the way. As a reader, I find Johnson’s work far too easy to forget, to neglect. In the lists of great Christian writers, one is much more apt to remember Bunyan and Milton, a century before Johnson, and in the century after him . . . that’s where things get challenging. Still, Johnson does not seem to leap to mind, yet this prolific and wide-ranging writer brought a moral clarity, although not much in the way of overt Christianity, to virtually everything he produced.
We would do well to remember this man as something more than just the hard-working master of journalistic essays and the creator of the first English dictionary. Oxford has a nice major works volume as a starting place.