Favorite Johnson Quotations?

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Favorite Johnson Quotations?

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Mar 24, 2008, 12:17am

A favorite of mine from Sam is a piece of advice for writers: "Read over your compositions, and when you come to passage that you find especially impressive, strike it out." And concerning Paradise Lost: "No one wished it longer."

Mar 24, 2008, 12:54am

My mind seems a little blank, tonight. Out of that paucity: 'Rid your mind of cant.' And there's one on tea: the statement that he was "... a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who has, for twenty years, diluted his meals with only the infusion of this fascinating plant, whose kettle scarcely has time to cool, who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnights, and with tea, welcomes the morning." From one tea-lover to another, a gift encapsulating its charms... though he never mentions (and probably did not know) its rich variety of flavor.

But anytime I do read Samuel Johnson, I am struck by lines and passages that could be favorites. Keeping up with long books, especially anthologies, is a weakness; but it seems to be partly conquered. I may add Samuel Johnson: The Major Works to my current reading, and mention favorites when I discover, or am reacquainted with, them. I also need to re-read Rasselas.

Mar 24, 2008, 1:45am

Over my CDs, I've posted the good doctor's

Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable.

Mar 24, 2008, 3:35am


Edited: Mar 24, 2008, 5:07am

Thanks for the invitation, ostrom. But isn't this group a kind of duplicate of the Turk's Head group? We'll have to get new ideas for new threads and discussions.

I could never understand what Johnson meant by striking out impressive passages... I find his advice desesperating.


Mar 24, 2008, 12:29pm

"The two most engaging powers of an author are to make things familiar, and familiar things new."

Mar 24, 2008, 12:34pm

Yes, there's a bit of overlap with Turk's head, although that one seemed more Johnson-centric (at least when I glanced at it), whereas this one is open to the whole 18th century British literary period, even though this first thread was on Sam. Please invite others to join, and feel free to start some threads.

Mar 24, 2008, 6:05pm

Yes, I was afraid the (real and apparent) Johnsonian focus was what killed the other one. But one can hardly ignore him!

Apr 1, 2008, 8:43pm

"Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."

Mar 19, 2010, 2:35pm

"Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good."


"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

(certainly an incisive commentary on excessive intoxicant consumption, but in a broader sense, it seems to provide an excellent explanation for the shortcomings of the human race--it also reminds me of that slippery piece of logic utilized by Richard III while wooing Anne, the "No Beast so fierce..." exchange; it seems our forebearers were much more uncomfortable with man's status or distinction as an animal)

Feb 13, 2012, 5:12pm

My favourite Jonson quote would be, 'To lick figs,'