Reading Experience Database
1450-1945

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Record 20825

Reading Experience:

Evidence:
'This Tale ["Rasselas"], with all the charms of oriental imagery, and all the force and beauty of which the English language is capable, leads us through the most important scenes of human life, and shews us that this stage of our being is full of "vanity and vexation of spirit". [Boswell comments on its value] Voltaire's "Candide", written to refute the system of Optimism, which it has accomplished with brilliant success, is wonderfully similar in its plan and conduct to Johnson's "Rasselas"; insomuch, that I have heard Johnson say, that if they had not been published so closely one after the other that there was not time for imitation, it would have been vain to deny that the scheme of that which came latest was taken from the other. Though the proposition illustrated by both these works was the same, namely, that in our present state there is more evil than good, the intention of the writers was very different. Voltaire, I am afraid, meant only by wanton profanness to obtain a sportive victory over religion, and to discredit the belief of a superintending Providence: Johnson meant, by shewing the unsatisfactory nature of things temporal, to direct the hopes of man to things eternal'.
Century: 1700-1799
Date: Between 1 Jan 1759 and 13 Dec 1787
Country: n/a
Time: n/a
Place: n/a
   
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:Samuel Johnson
Age Adult (18-100+)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 18 Sep 1709
Socio-economic group: Professional / academic / merchant / farmer
Occupation: writer
Religion: Anglican
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: n/a
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
n/a
Additional comments: n/a

 

Text Being Read:

Author: Voltaire [pseud.]
Title: Candide: Or, All for the Best
Genre: Fiction
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown

 

Source Information:

Record ID: 20825  
Source - Print  
  Author: James Boswell
  Editor: R.W. Chapman
  Title: Life of Johnson
  Place of Publication: Oxford
  Date of Publication: 1980
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 241-2
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson (Oxford, 1980), p. 241-2, http://can-red-lec.library.dal.ca/Arts/reading/recorddetails2.php?id=20825, accessed: 04 February 2023

Additional comments:

Originally published 1791.

 

 

Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)