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Record 21659

Reading Experience:

'Dr. Johnson and Mr. Wilkes talked of the contested passage in Horace's "Art of Poetry", "[italics] Difficile est proprie communia dicere.[end italics]' Mr. Wilkes according to my note, gave the interpretation thus; "It is difficult to speak with propriety of common things; as, if a poet had to speak of Queen Caroline drinking tea, he must endeavour to avoid the vulgarity of cups and saucers". But upon reading my note, he tells me that he meant to say, that "the word [italics]communia [end italics], being a Roman law term, signifies here things [italics]communis juris [end italics], that is to say, what have never yet been treated by any body; and this appears clearly from what followed, "[italics]--Tuque Rectius Iliacum carmen deducis in actus Quam si proferres ignota indictaque primus." [end italics] "You will easier make a tragedy out of the Iliad than on any subject not handled before".'
Century: 1700-1799
Date: Until: 15 May 1776
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 1740
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)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Horace
Title: Ars poetica
Genre: Classics, Essays / Criticism
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: unknown


Source Information:

Record ID: 21659  
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: 771-2
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson (Oxford, 1980), p. 771-2,, accessed: 05 February 2023

Additional comments:

Originally published 1791.



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