Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Anyone know a thing or two bout samuel johnson, shakespeare and project guttenberg?

  1. Jun 23, 2012 #1
    anyone know a thing or two bout samuel johnson, shakespeare and project guttenberg??

    this isnt science i know but ive got so much out of pphysics forums thought id post this here...
    I wanted to read everything he had to say about Hamlet, so I went to project guttenberg thinking that his entire 8 volume editions would be there. I navigated to Vol III: the tragedies, but then noticed that this is a "version" of johnsons work, from 1958, and then it lists about 40 or so editors.
    So my first question is : I thought project guttenberg has all these books in public domain in their original entirety, why do i have to read some heavily edited version from 1958? Thanks for any advice on this..

    OK then my other question has to do with what johnson had to say about hamlet: I scrolled down to where the Hamlet title was, and its just a s**tload of notes on random lines of the play, ; all numbered and everything, but didnt he first write like an overview of his thoughts on hamlet before all these notes, or is this just because of this edited 1958 version?
    Any help is really appreciated, im new at researching johnson and shakespeare so any tips or advice would be nice too, thanks
    heres the project guttenberg link i was using

    also, what other writer is/was pretty much renouned as being a total monster on shakespeare, like johnson was?
    thanks for any help
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2012 #2
    Re: anyone know a thing or two bout samuel johnson, shakespeare and project guttenber

    Googling informs me that Johnson wasn't a Shakespeare interpreter as much as a Shakespeare editor:


    As you can see from that link, Johnson's pal and biggest fan, Boswell, didn't think the "edition" was what it should have been. Not sure why you heard Johnson was the go-to guy for Shakespeare.

    All those random notes you're encountering seem to be his notes explicating various terms; Shakespeare as annotated by Johnson.

    Stuff like this:

    explains out of date terms and makes the play more accessible. That seems to be all he did.

    He doesn't seem to have written many essays about Shakespeare at all, just the preface to his edition and a separate essay on MacBeth.

    I personally don't know of any essayist who would be considered the supreme expert on Shakespeare. Hamlet has probably been analyzed by three or four hundred great writers and a million not so great ones.

    Edit: This might be a good forum to go to for ideas:


    Some of those people there are pretty knowledgable.
  4. Jun 23, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Re: anyone know a thing or two bout samuel johnson, shakespeare and project guttenber

    If you want to do some serious research I would skip Project Gutenberg and go to the original editions. Gutenberg is OK, except you lose all the original formatting, any foreign language text, etc.

    http://archive.org/search.php?query=Samuel Johnson Shakespeare

    Internet Archve''s indexing can be fairly shambolic (if it says something is "Volume n", it ain't necessarily so!) and they often have multiple copies of the same works digitized from different libraries. You need to look at the title pages of the actual digitized books to be sure about the editions, publication dates, etc.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook