David Ross (dyvyd) wrote,
David Ross
dyvyd

Preparing for S. Johnson's 300th anniversary

I'll just celebrate September 7 since I like that date, and O.S. calendar or not, I don't care much whose calendar is more correct. Moons, Martian doppel-jahren, fractional Kalpas-- it's all the same to me.  You pick a date and stick with it.

And so I say Dr. Johnson (was he ever one?) was born September 7, 1709.  And being no Johnson scholar, but feeling that palpable lack, I have determined to read his two volume dictionary (among other reading tasks) in celebration of this birthday event.

I have a book of selections edited by Jack Lynch, but after just a few tastes of these I can see that I must digest both volumes whole, and allow the gustated humours thereof to soak deeply into my constitution, to re-vivify it with meracious and felicitous gemmosities, whose musicke, over these last three centuries, has become less and less heard. Well, I can't claim to have more than an humorous command of the language at present...

Ah, but it is fascinating to see how much the meanings of rather normal-sounding, seemingly well-understood words have become something quite other than they were 300 years ago.  And frankly, the old uses are quite captivating, and seem much more full of poetry than present usage. We now often have to put a word to serious misuse to make it sing as well.

Be still, my absinthiated heart. Soon Dr. Johnson will make thee a bashaw among bards!
Tags: humor, writers and writing
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