Via Bookninja (I think), an interesting bit of Johnsoniana: New research indicates Johnson gave up on his dictionary. I haven’t read anything of Anne McDermott’s, so I don’t know how convincing her argument is, but she’s claiming that Johnson secretly stopped work on the dictionary for years. She says that this is reflected in the Rambler:
“Once you tune into this, it becomes inescapable,” she says. “The melancholy tone of the Rambler has often been commented on, and the early volumes are full of essays about idleness, indolence and guilt over work undone.”
I’m not a Johnson expert (yet), but isn’t everything the man ever wrote also full of angst about his idleness, indolence, and guilt over work undone? Every time Boswell includes a quotation from Johnson’s Prayers and Meditations on Easter, the theme is self-recrimination for laziness and a pledge to do better in the year ahead. I have no trouble believing that Johnson did stall out on the dictionary work for some time, but I’m not sure that Rambler essays on the evils of procrastination are a good proof of it.
Anyhow, I’ll be curious to see what sort of evidence McDermott produces for this. Could be exciting.