Effective use of imagery in Samuel Johnson's London and the vanity of human wishes
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Literary critics have frequently found the poetry of Samuel Johnson lacking in effective imagery. A study of the imagery in two major poems by Johnson appears to be a sound approach to determining the validity of this criticism. This appraisal of his imagery includes a consideration not only of the widely acclaimed The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) but also of the lesser known London (1738). The solution to the question of effective imagery lies in a view of the poetry from several standpoints. The mode of the poems as imitations of Juvenal influences the imagery and, consequently, requires consideration. Also, a study of Johnson's poetic theory as it pertains to the two poems helps to clarify Johnson's method of imagery. Finally, an appraisal of the imagery as it develops themes and reflects the purpose of the poems is necessary. This work, based on the consideration of the two poems, tends to disprove the unfavorable comments of the critics. The study leads to the conclusion that the position of both Vanity and London, as worthy representatives of Samuel Johnson's literary genius, is due at least partially to their effective imagery.
Johnson, Samuel, -- 1709-1784. -- Vanity of human wishes
Johnson, Samuel, -- 1709-1784. -- London
Johnson, Samuel, -- 1709-1784 -- Criticism and interpretation