Johnsonian Miscellanies

George Birkbeck Norman Hill

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Editore: Forgotten Books
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  • EAN: 9780259648963

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In such a variety of material as is comprised in these two volumes, where much the same ground is frequently travelled over by different writers, I have found it difficult to exclude idle repetitions. Wherever there are two original authorities for the same anecdote, repetition may not only be justifiable, but even necessary. In many cases, however, one writer borrows from another without owning the Obligation. William Seward, for instance, who knew Johnson well, from whose Anecdotes of Distinguished Persons and Bz'ogmp/tiona I have quoted, had taken not a few passages from Mrs. Piozzi's Anecdotes without the change of a Single word. Some of these thefts I only discovered in correcting the proof-sheets. It might be thought that plagiarism such as this would be easily detected by one who was so familiar with the subject. It was this very familiarity which made detection difficult. Every anecdote I had long known so well that frequently I could not be sure whether I was not for the second time including in my selection what had been included before. The imperfections of such a piece of work as this are often more clearly seen by the editor than even by the most sharp sighted reviewer. They are discovered too late for correction, but not for criticism. Were the whole book in type at the same time, and were the cost of correction of no moment, what improvements could be made! I have never yet finished an index without wishing that by the help of it I could at once re-edit my own editing.
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