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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Clair C. Olson


Somewhere is most general histories and outlines of English literature, the greatness of the King James Bible and its influence on all of English literature since 1611 have been pointed out. Unquestionably, all men of letters in the English language since that time have known of the King James Bible; and many of them may have been decidedly influenced by its tradition of cadenced prose and its prose figures.

The great deal of research would have to be done in order to establish conclusively the influence of the Prayer Book upon all writers from 1549 to the present time. If this thesis stimulates any other worker to make a study in the general problem, it will have far exceeded its present purposes. For this approaches only one small aspect of the problem.

Samuel Johnson is an obvious subject for such a study, because he attended the Church of England;1 he knew the Prayer Book well;2 in fact, he was such a good Church of England man that Boswell records in the Life at least two occasions when Johnson was offered a position in the Church.33 Furthermore, Johnson was preeminently a prose writer and used an ornate style. This combination of devoutness and literary ability makes of him ripe material for an investigation of the influence of the Prayer Book on an English writer.

There is another reason why Johnson should make a good subject for study. He lived in an age that was a part of the same Renaissance tradition that produced the Bible and the Prayer Book. In fact, it has been pointed out that Johnson was the last of the great Renaissance humanists.4.

The problem that this study attempts to solve, then, is "Did the Book of Common Prayer have any influence on Samuel Johnson's prose style?" Although many other problems have arisen in the course of this work, no attempt will be made to solve any of them; showing that the Prayer Book did influence at least part of Johnson's writing will be the single purpose of this paper





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