Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Edmond Malone

There are at least two points of connection between literary critic Edmond Malone and Sir Walter Scott.  Malone lived mostly earlier than Scott, being born on October 4, 1741; thirty years before Scott.  Both contributed to biographies of Samuel Johnson, Malone working James Boswell through his initial effort, and Scott contributing to Croker's update.

Both wrote about John Dryden as well.   Malone published an edition of Dryden's works, along with a memoir on Dryden.  Scott later authored a biography, "The Life of John Dryden".  Scott relied on Malone for his study of Dryden, as he comments on in the introduction to his own “The Dramatic Works of John Dryden”.

‘In the Biographical Memoir, it would have been hard to exact, that the Editor should rival the criticism of Johnson, or produce facts which had escaped the accuracy of Malone. While, however, he has availed himself with the history of his publications, without losing sight of the fate and character of the individual. How far this end has been attained, is not for the Editor to guess, especially when, as usual at the close of a work, he finds he is possessed of double the information he had when he commenced it. The kindness of Mr. Octavius Gilchrist, who undertook a journey to Northamptonshire to examine the present state of Rushton, where Dryden often lived, and of Mr. Finlay of Glasgow, who favoured the Editor with the use of some original editions, falls here to be gratefully acknowledged of the labours of both, particularly of the latter, whose industry has removed the cloud which so long hung over the events of Dryden's life, he has endeavoured to take a different and more enlarged view of the subject than that which his predecessors have presented. The general critical view of Dryden's works being sketched by Johnson with unequalled felicity, and the incidents of his life accurately discussed and ascertained by Malone, something seemed to remain for him who should consider these literary productions in their succession, as actuated by, and operating upon, the taste of an age, where they had so predominant influence; and who might, at the same time, connect the life of Dryden with the history of his publications, without losing sight of the fate and character of the individual. How far this end has been attained, is not for the Editor to guess, especially when, as usual at the close of a work, he finds he is possessed of double the information he had when he commenced it. The kindness of Mr. Octavius Gilchrist, who undertook a journey to Northamptonshire to examine the present state of Rushton, where Dryden often lived, and of Mr. Finlay of Glasgow, who favoured the Editor with the use of some original editions, falls here to be gratefully acknowledged.’

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