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Samuel Johnson


English essayist, lexicographer, biographer, and poet

“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”

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source: Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (London: Frederick Warne and Co. 1870), 544.

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medium: Nonfiction

“Society is held together by communication and information.”

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source: The Life of Samuel Johnson, vol 3 (London: George Bell and Sons, 1884), 11.

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medium: biography

notes: Submitted by Neil Steinberg (thanks, Neil), with this note: The sentiment is prosaic, but what makes this quote interesting, to me, is that it appears in a late-18th century book (1791, or so, I believe). We think of our society as being so modern and such a departure from the past, yet when we look closely at the past, it becomes less different from today than we first thought. Johnson's big challenges—getting paid for writing, having his work copied and ripped off—would certainly resonate with any blogger. The copy of "Life of Johnson" I read had marginal notes by Mrs. Thrale, Johnson's contemporary, and so read almost like a comments section on-line.

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