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His (Samuel Johnson's) famous argument against the slavish following of the “three unities” of classical drama is a good example, as is his defense of the supposedly illegitimate “tragicomic” mode of Shakespeare’s latest plays. Note, in particular, the basis of that defense: "That this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism," Johnson wrote, "will be readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature."

According to the author, Johnson’s defense of Shakespeare’s latest plays illustrates Johnson’s reliance on which of the following in his criticism?

The answer is:
His own experience and judgment.

Could we infer from the given context above that Johnson's defense of Shakespeare's latest plays illustrates his reliance on his own experience and judgment. Or do you need additional context? I can put more here.

Thank you so much for your time.
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Well, I certainly need more.
Thank you, Mr.M. Here's the two whole paragraphs:

"In other ways, too, Johnson’s critical method had much in common with that of the Romantics, with whom Johnson and, indeed, the entire neoclassical tradition are generally supposed to be in conflict. Johnson was well aware, for example, of the sterility of literary criticism that is legalistic or pedantic, as was the case with the worst products of the neoclassical school. His famous argument against the slavish following of the “three unities” of classical drama is a good example, as is his defense of the supposedly illegitimate “tragicomic” mode of Shakespeare’s latest plays. Note, in particular, the basis of that defense: “That this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism,” Johnson wrote, “will be readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature."

The sentiment thus expressed could easily be endorsed by any of the Romantics; the empiricism it exemplifies is vital quality of Johnson’s criticism, as is the willingness to jettison “laws” of criticism when to do so makes possible a more direct appeal to the emotions of the reader. Addison’s Cato, highly praised in Johnson’s day for its “correctness,” is damned with faint praise by Johnson: “Cato affords a splendid exhibition of artificial and fictitious manners, and delivers just and noble sentiments, in diction easy, elevated, and harmonious, but its hopes and fears communicate no vibration to the heart.” Wordsworth could hardly demur."

This article is really hard for me to crack! I don't even know what it's talking about.
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You are amongst friends. Emotion: smile
Could we infer from the given context above that Johnson's defense of Shakespeare's latest plays illustrates his reliance on his own experience and judgment?

I think so, Jeff, yes:

Johnson’s critical method had much in common with that of the Romantics[;]... a good example...is his defense of the supposedly illegitimate “tragicomic” mode of Shakespeare’s latest plays.... Note, in particular, the basis of that defense: “That this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism,” Johnson wrote, “will be readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature."...the empiricism [this] exemplifies is [ a] vital quality of Johnson’s criticism, as is the willingness to jettison “laws” of criticism when to do so makes possible a more direct appeal to the emotions of the reader

Well, that the empiricism is vital quality of Johnson's criticism doesn't necessarily mean that his defense of Shakespeare's latest plays illustrates his reliance on his own experience. I think there got to be something that bridges them.

What does Johnson mean by saying "that this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism will be readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature"?
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Dear friends,

We may perhaps say that «to appeal to nature» is «to refer to the world in support of an argument».

We may not perhaps find «tragicomedy» in the rules of classical drama, but we may find it in the world.

Kind regards, Emotion: smile

Goldmund
Thank you Goldmund. You're so kind Emotion: smile So you mean that in support of argument we have to find the answer in the real world. Doesn't it also imply that we should base on the experience?
"That this is a practice contrary to the rules of criticism," Johnson wrote, "will be readily allowed; but there is always an appeal from criticism to nature."
Hello Jeff

When SJ talks about "nature", he inevitably means "nature as I know it". (By "nature", he means "the way things are"; or "the real world", to use Goldmund's phrase.)

If (for instance) I say "the world is tragicomic, like one of Shakespeare's plays", it means: "the world, in my experience, is tragicomic; like one of Shakespeare's plays (in my experience of Shakespeare's plays)".

So to that extent, you can say that SJ relies on his own experience and judgement.

(I suppose the critic means that SJ did not blindly apply traditional criteria in his criticism.)

MrP
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