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JOHNSON, Samuel.

The Works of the English Poets.

With Prefaces, biographical and critical.

London: printed by H. Baldwin; for J. Buckland, J. Rivington and Sons, T. Payne and Son [and 39 others], 1790 Stock Code: 140493
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Elegant contemporary green calf

Second edition, with 14 authors, including Johnson himself, added to the original selection of 1779-81. The ultimate literary success of Johnson's career, the prefaces written to append the vast collection of English poetry were quickly recognized as setting a new standard for English literary biography. "In particular, the surveys of Cowley, Milton, Dryden, Swift, and Pope exemplify Johnson's serious concern with the deepest springs of creativity, as well as his ability to explore with considerable insight some individuals whose character and work aroused profound antipathy in him. Even in an age of greater theoretical sophistication, his reading of mainstream poetry from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries remains canonical, by reason of its attention to verbal detail, its decisive judgments, and its robust expression" (ODNB).

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75 volumes, small octavo (157 x 95 mm). Contemporary green mottled calf, spines lettered and ruled in gilt, green speckled edges.


With 32 engraved portrait plates, text printed on Whatman wove paper.


Early shelf label to front pastedowns. A few minor instances of rubbing to spines, extremities a little burnished, old onlay repair to a couple of joints, bindings generally without wear; peripheral browning to endpapers and facing leaves but contents otherwise clean. A very nice set.


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