Samuel Johnson and Voltaire’s “Petty Cavils” on English literature
The poetic genius of the English is, up to now, like a bushy tree planted by Nature, throwing out a thousand branches and growing unsymmetrically with strength. It dies if you try to force its nature and to clip it like one of the trees in the Marly gardens. –Voltaire, Discourse on Tragedy (1731)
The work of a correct and regular writer is a garden accurately formed and diligently planted […] the composition of Shakespeare is a forest, in which oaks extend their branches, and pines tower in the air, interspersed sometimes with weeds and brambles. – Johnson, Preface to Shakespeare (1765)
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