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On the Edification of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poet

Abstract:Samuel Johnson, the leader of English literary circles in the 18th century, attached great importance to the moral education function of biography. In his Lives of the English Poets, on one hand he praised highly the poets’ perseverance, diligence and their longings for a better life, and acclaimed their filial obedience, benevolence and friendliness; on the other hand he enumerated their various weakness and funny things, and some unwise ridiculous behaviors, and described their sadness, poverty, betrayal of friendship, and fear of death. He provided good examples for the readers to imitate, and taught lessons for them to learn.

Keywords: Samuel Johnson   Lives of the English Poets  Moral Education

Author:Sun Yongbin is professor of English at the School of Foreign Languages, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics (Nanjing 210046, China). His research areas are English literature. His recent article “Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets: a Canon for Liberal Arts Education” was published in Linyi University Journal. He is chairing the project of National Social Science Foundation of China which is entitled “The Study of Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets”. Email: syongbin@njue.edu.cn