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Reinhold N.I. Lumières of the English criticism. (Introductory Article). Samuel Johnson. Swift (From The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets). Translated into Russian, with Notes. Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 3, pp. 304–354. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-3-304-354

Author: Natalya I. Reinhold
Information about the author:

Natalya I. Reinhold, DSc in Philology, PhD in English (United Kingdom), Professor and Head of the Department for Translation Studies, Interpreting and Translation at the Russian State University for the Humanities, Miusskyi Sq., 6, 125993 Moscow, Russia.
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Received: March 05, 2018
Published: September 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №3
Department: Textology. Materials
Pages: 304-354

UDK: 821.111-93
BBK: 83.3(4Вел)51
Keywords: Samuel Johnson, Jonathan Swift, eighteenth-century English literature, the age of Enlightenment, a life, the genre of a biography, literary criticism, historical context, text commenting, translation


This publication includes the introductory article and the translation of the source text, namely, “The Life of Swift” from The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1781) by Samuel Johnson (1709–1784), a great eighteenth-century English literary critic and biographer. The author points at the paradox-like case of Samuel Johnson’s reception in Russia, with his magnum opus hasing been left untranslated into Russian. The article draws numerous examples of the unacknowledged borrowings from Johnson’s Lives made by the nineteenth-and twentieth-century Russian critics and scholars. The article highlights various aspects of Johnson’s versatile activities as a biographer and critic, an essay master and a compiler of the dictionary, a playwright and a poet, an editor and a publisher of commentaries and notes, a writer of pamphlet and letter writing, and last but not least, a good Christian who had left a collection of prayers and meditations. The article provides a detailed description of the source text in question, and defines its status among Johnson’s works and in English letters at large. The author of the article claims Johnson to be the true founder of the literary-cum-biographical-cum-critical essay eighteenth-century in England. She mentions the forthcoming publication of the first full-text translation of The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets into Russian in the book series “Literaturnye pamyatniki,” and gives as a sample the translation of “The Life of Swift,” accompanied by notes.


1 Druzhinin A.V. Johnson i Boswell. Kartina britanskikh literaturnikh nravov vo vtoroi polovine 18 stoletiya [Johnson and Boswell. The overview of the literary landscape of the second half of the 18 th century]. Sobranie sochineniy A.V. Druzhinina: v 8 t. [Collected works of A.V. Druzhinin: in 8 vols.]. St. Petersburg, Tipografia imperatorskoi akademii nauk Publ., 1865–1867, vol. IV, p. 7–245. (In Russ.)

2 [Milton John.] Poteriannyi i vozvraschchonnyi rai. Poema Dzhona Miltona. So statiei o zhizni i proizvedeniakh avtora [Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The Poems by John Milton]. Introduced and translated from the English by P.A. Kanshin. With drawings. St. Petersburg, Izdanie knigoprodavtsa V.I. Gubinskogo Publ., 1891. 605 p. (In Russ.)

3 Eliot T.S. O Klassike: iz literaturno-kriticheskogo naslediia, vstupitel’naya statia A. Zvereva; publikatsiia, perevod i kommentarii N. Bushmanovoi [About the classic: from the literary-critical heritage. Introduction by A. Zverev, translated from the English, with notes by N. Bushmanova]. Voprosy literatury, 1988, issue 8, p. 160–208. (In Russ.)

4 Yakovenko V.I. D.Swift. Ego zhizn’ i literaturnaia deiatel’nost’. Biografichskii ocherk [Swift. His life and literary activities. A biographical essay]. St. Petersburg, Tipografiia tovarisch. “Obshchestvennaya pol’za”, 1891. 112 p. (In Russ.)

5 Iser Wolfgang. On Translatability: Variables of Interpretation. European Messenger, 1995, IV/1, pp. 30–38. (In English)

6 Johnson Samuel. The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets; with Critical Observations on their Works. By Samuel Johnson. In Four Volumes. L., MDCCLXXXI. (In English)