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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
 
 
 
 

Record Number: 21583


Reading Experience:

Evidence:

'He spoke slightingly of Dyer's "Fleece". "The subject, Sir, cannot be made poetical. How can a man write poetically of serges and druggets ? Yet you will hear many people talk to you gravely of that [italics] excellent [end italics] poem, "The Fleece." Having talked of Grainger's "Sugar-Cane", I mentioned to him Mr. Langton's having told me that this poem, when read in manuscript at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, had made all the assembled wits burst into a laugh, when, after much blank-verse pomp, the poet began a new paragraph thus: "Now, Muse, let's sing of [italics] rats [end italics]". And what increased the ridicule was, that one of the company, who slily overlooked the reader, perceived that the word had been originally [italics] mice [end italics], and had been altered to [italics] rats [end italics], as more dignified. This passage does not appear in the printed work. Dr. Grainger, or some of his friends, it should seem, having become sensible that introducing even [italics] Rats [end italics] in a grave poem might be liable to banter. He, however, could not bring himself to relinquish the idea; for they are thus, in a still more ludicrous manner, periphrastically exhibited in his poem as it now stands: "Nor with less waste the whisker'd vermin race, A countless clan, despoil the lowland cane." Johnson said, that Dr. Grainger was an agreeable man; a man who would do any good that was in his power. His translation of "Tibullus", he thought, was very well done; but "The Sugar Cane, a Poem," did not please him; for, he exclaimed, "What could he make of a sugar cane? One might as well write the 'Parsley Bed, a Poem ;' or ' The Cabbage Garden, a Poem'".'

Century:

1700-1799

Date:

Until: 21 Mar 1776

Country:

n/a

Time

n/a

Place:

n/a

Type of Experience
(Reader):
 

silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Type of Experience
(Listener):
 

solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown


Reader / Listener / Reading Group:

Reader:

James Boswell

Age:

Adult (18-100+)

Gender:

Male

Date of Birth:

29 Oct 1740

Socio-Economic Group:

Professional / academic / merchant / farmer

Occupation:

writer and lawyer

Religion:

n/a

Country of Origin:

Scotland

Country of Experience:

n/a

Listeners present if any:
e.g family, servants, friends

n/a


Additional Comments:

n/a



Text Being Read:

Author:

James Grainger

Title:

Sugar Cane, The

Genre:

Poetry

Form of Text:

Print: Book

Publication Details

n/a

Provenance

unknown


Source Information:

Record ID:

21583

Source:

Print

Author:

James Boswell

Editor:

R.W. Chapman

Title:

Life of Johnson

Place of Publication:

Oxford

Date of Publication:

1980

Vol:

n/a

Page:

698-9

Additional Comments:

n/a

Citation:

James Boswell, R.W. Chapman (ed.), Life of Johnson, (Oxford, 1980), p. 698-9, http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/reading/UK/record_details.php?id=21583, accessed: 02 March 2021


Additional Comments:

Original date of publication 1791.

   
   
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