Like other works, [Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Poets] is concerned with the nature, and, more importantly, the limits of human achievement. It assumes what its surrounding works assume: The continuity and dignity of the uniquely human—man’s will, conscience, and rage for order, ironically menaced by man’s ever-present impulse to delusion, triviality, incompetence, vanity, and plain stupidity.
–Paul Fussell, Samuel Johnson and the Life of Writing

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