Samuel Johnson At 313: A Pessimist's Pessimist
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Today, September 18th, is the 313th birthday (by the Gregorian calendar) of the great English lexicographer, essayist, and pessimist Samuel Johnson.

I urge readers to commemorate the event by reading Johnson’s long poem The Vanity of Human Wishes. I have posted an annotated version on my personal website with audio of me reading the poem. 

From Jeffrey Meyers’ 2008 book Samuel Johnson: The Struggle:

Johnson’s title originates in the dire motto of Ecclesiastes 1:2: ”Vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” a word he defined in the Dictionary as ”uncertainty,"  ”fruitless desire”  and ”falsehood.”  His poem is not simply pessimistic, but strains against optimism, against the possibility that human life could actually get better.

What’s not to like? 

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