This study concerns itself with Shakespeare no less than with Johnson. For Johnson;s account of `the poet of nature' is here maintained to be no dead commonplace but a radically challenging proposition; its cutting edge is brought out by a series of contrasts with the leading Romantic critics- Coleridge, Schlegel, and Hazlitt - and the dichotomies which emerge are found to reflect tensions exhibited by or explored within the plays themselves. The need for unexpectedly fundamental choices in our own reading of Shakespeare is implied. The author relates Johnson's feeling for generalnature to the scepticism characteristic of his thought, and concludes with a fresh and provocative discussion of Johnson's response to the `unnatural deeds of Shakespearean tragedy. The Central section of the Preface to Shakespeare is reprinted here, as are many of the most critically interesting notes, so that this book offers a virtual anthology of Johnson's Shakespeare criticism as well as a commentary upon it. evaluation of Shakespeare as `the poet of nature' was no merecommonplace but a radically challenging proposition. In this study his ideas are contrasted with the leading Romantic critics Coleridge, Hazlitt, and A. W. Schlegel. A large part of his Preface to Shakespeare is reprinted as are many of the most critically interesting notes, providing a virtualanthology of Johnson's Shakespeare criticism.