[[quoteright:223:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/SamuelJohnson_8.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:223:"He that will enjoy the brightness of sunshine, must quit the coolness of the shade. [[SophisticatedAsHell Also]], [[MemeticMutation what the fuck am I reading?]]"]]

->''Let Obſervation with extenſive View,''
->''Survey Mankind, from ''China'' to ''Peru;
->''Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,''
->''And watch the buſy Scenes of crouded Life...''
--> -- '''Dr. Samuel Johnson''', ''The Vanity of Human Wishes''

'''Samuel Johnson''' (1709 - 1784) was an English writer, noted for his SesquipedalianLoquaciousness, his political and social conservatism, his gruff irascibility, and his confident literary and moral judgement. His works include ''A Dictionary of the English Language''[[note]]not actually the first, as is commonly believed, but it was by far the best and remained so for 173 years after its publication[[/note]] (which included such famous definitions as "N[-ETWORK-] -- ''Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections''" and "O[-ATS-] -- ''A grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people''"); critical work, including an important annotated edition of the works of Creator/WilliamShakespeare; essays, published mostly in ''The Rambler'' and ''The Idler''; several poems (one of which, ''The Vanity of Human Wishes'', is awesome;) and a novella, ''The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia''. He also wrote a popular book about his travels in Western and Northern Scotland, which at the time was considered by English readers a remote, exotic and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_Rising rather scary]] place. He also wrote a play, ''Irene'', which was quite a success at the time but which has almost never been performed since its premiere, because it's very boring.

Although Johnson's views of black people [[ValuesDissonance were as paternalistic as any man's of the time]], [[FairForItsDay he loathed the institution of slavery]]; when once asked to give a toast, he shocked the room with "Here's to the next insurrection of the Negroes in the West Indies!" He hated the American revolutionaries not just for their disloyalty to the Crown but also for (as he saw it) the unforgivable hypocrisy of clamoring for "liberty" while denying it to their slaves, famously asking "How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?" He himself left his entire estate (less a few legacies) to his black servant, Frank Barber, who had been born a slave.

As a critic, Johnson believed strongly in logic and decorum (in the 18th century sense of probable characterization) in literary works; moreover, he believed that they should be judged on moral as well as artistic grounds. He was a firm Classicist who wrote a considerable number of his poems in Latin, and insofar as the incipient Romantic movement crossed his radar at all, he had a strong distaste for it. The Romantics returned the disfavour, disparaging him as "Ursa Major -- the [[BearsAreBadNews Great Bear]]"; Elizabeth Browning wrote of his ''Lives of the English Poets'' that he "wrote the lives of the poets and left out the poets!".[[note]]To be fair to Johnson, he was commissioned to write the ''Lives'' by a consortium of booksellers and they, not he, got to decide who was included, which is why it's overwhelmingly about 17th and 18th century poets and doesn't cover anyone earlier than Milton.[[/note]] Later writers such as TSEliot and [[WaitingForGodot Samuel Beckett]] have been admirers of Johnson's work, especially for its emphasis on the [[StoicWoobie importance of enduring suffering]].

He suffered from scrofula or the King's Evil in his childhood, and was touched by Queen Anne for it -- one of the last RealLife instances of MedicalMonarch.

Some modern writers have suggested that Johnson suffered from obsessive-compulsive syndrome. Doctors with historical interests, however, are generally agreed that his symptoms are much more like Tourette's Syndrome than OCD. He also suffered from extreme bouts of depression that made him fear for his sanity and beg his friend Hester Thrale to "chain him up" if he ever did go insane. At least one 20th century writer took that to mean that he was having an S&M affair with her.

His fans called him the Great Cham (ie. Khan) of Literature, and his fame during his lifetime was such that he was badgered by friends, acquaintances, and even the general public on everything from career advice to funeral inscriptions. These days he's chiefly known nowadays through James Boswell's ''Life of Johnson'', which is considered the greatest {{biography}} in English.[[note]]Of Boswell, one nineteenth-century reviewer wrote: "[A]ll those things which are generally considered as making a book valuable, were utterly wanting to him. He had, indeed, a quick observation and a retentive memory. These qualities, if he had been a man of sense and virtue would scarcely of themselves have sufficed to make him conspicuous; but because he was a dunce, a parasite, and a coxcomb, they have made him immortal."[[/note]] Such are the vagaries of fame.
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!!Tropes associated with Dr. Samuel Johnson or found in his works:
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: He discusses this at length, and advocates for its use in non-fantastic fiction, in ''The Rambler'' #4.
* CatchYourDeathOfCold
* CreatorBacklash: He experienced this with his only play, ''Irene''. He worked on it for ''23 years'' and confidently expected it to be a big hit. When it was finally produced it was successful, but nobody ever did it again. Years later, Johnson was at a party where someone was reading from it. After listening for a while, Johnson left the room. A friend followed and asked him what was wrong. He said [[SelfDeprecation "Sir, I thought it had been better."]]
* GentlemanSnarker: He was one in conversation, which is the main reason why Boswell's biography of him is so entertaining. The first thing Johnson ever said to Boswell was a snark, when the man who introduced them, knowing Johnson's mild prejudice against Scottish people, maliciously informed Johnson that Boswell was Scottish:
-->'''Boswell''': Mr Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland, [[SelfDeprecation but I cannot help it]].
-->'''Johnson''': That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help.
** On the AmericanRevolution:
-->'''Johnson''': Loudest are the yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes.
* GildedCage: Where Rasselas lives in the opening
* HeroicSelfDeprecation: His journals and diaries are full of it.
* KnightInSourArmour: He was profoundly religious, which is probably the only thing which stopped him from putting on the JadeColoredGlasses. He was enough of an idealist to believe that people should try as hard as they could to be good, and enough of a cynic to believe that they would usually fail.
* LanguageDrift: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] extensively in his preface to his ''Dictionary''. He says that if one cannot combat such an inevitable process, then one can at least provide future readers with the means of figuring out what people of the past were saying. As it turns out, his ''Dictionary'' has ended up being credited with being one of the texts that helped slow the rate of change that English experienced afterward.
* LikesOlderWomen: His wife, Tetty, was 21 years older than him. He was devoted to her and heartbroken by her death.
* RichBoredom: Rasselas's motive
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: He's notorious for this, but since fewer people have read his work than have read about him, most people never find out that his writing, especially his poetry, is a good deal leaner, clearer and wittier than this trope suggests. He was known to [[LampshadeHanging lampshade]] his own fondness for pompous Latinate words: according to Boswell, Johnson described the failure of a play as "It had not wit enough to keep it sweet." He then caught himself and rephrased it: [[UpToEleven "It had not vitality enough to preserve it from putrefaction."]] In general he was aiming to write dignified English, and most of the time he succeeded.
* TakeThat: He had many targets. From ''The Life of Richard Savage'', this one (once you figure it out) is against [[TheCynic cynicism in general]]:
-->The knowledge of life was indeed his chief attainment; and it is not without some satisfaction that I can produce the suffrage of Savage in favour of human nature, of which he never appeared to entertain such odious ideas as some, who perhaps had neither his judgement nor experience, have published, either in [[SmallNameBigEgo ostentation of their sagacity]], [[HobbesWasRight vindication of their crimes]], or [[DidYouActuallyBelieve gratification of their malice]].
* WellDoneSonGuy: He seems to have been this to his biographer, James Boswell.
* YouKeepUsingThatWord: In his ''Dictionary'', Johnson defined the word "pastern" as "the knee of a horse".[[note]]it is actually the part of a horse's foot between the fetlock and hoof, corresponding on humans to the part of the foot between the ankle and sole[[/note]]. When asked by a lady how he had come to misdefine the word so badly, he replied, [[OldShame "Ignorance, Madam, pure ignorance."]]

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!!Appearances in fiction

* ''The Just Vengeance'' by DorothyLSayers
* "[[Recap/BlackadderS3E2InkAndIncapability Ink and Incapability]]", an episode of ''{{Blackadder}} the Third''.
* ''The Judgement of Dr. Johnson'' by Creator/GKChesterton
* Both Johnson and his friend Boswell make an appearance towards the end of ThomasPynchon's ''Mason & Dixon''.
* In ''VanityFair'', Miss Pinkerton makes much of having met Dr. Johnson in her youth, and gives a copy of his dictionary to favoured students -- she is much shocked when Becky Sharp hurls her copy back in disdain.
* The fictional thoughts of Johnson on modern-day phenomena can be found [[http://twitter.com/drsamueljohnson on Twitter]]:
-->"iPad (n.) Mister JOBS' ornate Picture-Frame, rever'd and pric'd as if it were a Window 'pon the SOUL"
* ''Dr Sam: Johnson, Detective'' a series of short stories by Lillian de la Torre. Since SherlockHolmes calls Watson his Boswell, these stories turn Boswell into TheWatson.
* ''Boswell & Johnson's Tour of the Western Isles'', a dramatisation of Johnson's visit to Scotland that tends to go for RuleOfFunny over Rule Of What Actually Happened. Notable for Robbie Coltrane reprising the role from ''Blackadder''.
* Johnson is the resident DeadpanSnarker of John Kendrick Bangs' "Associated Shades" novels (which take place in the Afterlife and are basically {{Massive Multiplayer Crossover}}s of all the historical and fictional characters Bangs found interesting).

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