In Boswell's "Life of Samuel Johnson", one of the towering figures of English literature is revealed with unparalleled immediacy and originality. While Johnson's Dictionary remains a monument of scholarship, and his essays and criticism command continuing respect, we owe our knowledge of the man himself to this biography. Through a series of wonderfully detailed anecdotes, Johnson emerges as a sociable figure with a huge appetite for life, crossing swords with other great eighteenth-century luminaries, from Garrick and Goldsmith to Burney and Burke - even his long-suffering friend and disciple James Boswell.Yet Johnson had a vulnerable, even tragic, side and anxieties and obsessions haunted his private hours. Boswell's sensitivity and insight into every facet of his subject's character ultimately make this biography as moving as it is entertaining. Based on the 1799 edition, Christopher Hibbert's abridgement preserves the integrity of the original, while his fascinating introduction sets Boswell's view of Samuel Johnson against that of others of the time.
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The most celebrated English biography is a group portrait in which extraordinary man paints the picture of a dozen more. At the centre of a brilliant circle which included Burke, Reynolds, Garrick, Fanny Burney and even George III, Boswell captures the powerful, troubled and witty figure of Samuel Johnson, who towers above them all. Yet this is also an intimate picture of domestic life, which mingles the greatest talkers of a talkative age with the hero's humbler friends in a picture which is, before all things, humane.
As a young man about London, James Boswell was obsessed by literature, and, on a fateful day in 1763, he attached himself with unswerving tenacity to the dominant literary figure of his age—the splendidly rotund, articulate, and humane Dr Samuel Johnson. What followed was the most famous of friendships between writers and the bais for the remarkable documentation contained in Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, the greatest and most compelling of all biographies.
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James Boswell is for some the ideal scribe, for others a sycophantic toady. Edmund Wilson memorably labeled him "a vain and pushing diarist." Boswell can even be seen as someone unconsciously intent on undermining his idol in sonorous, balanced sentences. Early on in his massive Life, he puts all manner of ideas into our heads with his boobish attempts to clear the youthful Johnson of potential impropriety: "His juvenile attachments to the fair sex were, however, very transient; and it is certain that he formed no criminal connection whatsoever." And while it's often tempting to ignore Boswell's more personal intrusions and delight solely in the melancholic master's words and deeds, there are delightful admissions as, "I was at this time so occupied, shall I call it? or so dissipated, by the amusements of London that our next meeting was not till Saturday, June 25..."
Samuel Johnson was born in 1709 and died in 1784--a long life, though one marred by depression and fear of death. On April 20, 1764, for example, he declared, "I would consent to have a limb amputated to recover my spirits." Many of the quotes Boswell includes are a sort of greatest hits: Johnson's definitions of oats and lexicographer, his love for his cat Hodge, as well as thousands of bon, and mal, mots. ("Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel"; "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprized to find it done at all.") But there are also many unfamiliar pleasures--Boswell's accounts of Johnson's literary industry, including the Dictionary, The Rambler and Lives of the Poets; Johnson's singular loathing for Scotland and France; and the surprising hints of revelry. Awakened at 3 AM by friends, he greets them with, "What, is it you, you dogs! I'll have a frisk with you." This at age 42. Johnson's final years were marked by pain and loneliness but certainly no loss of wit.
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Book Description Penguin Books Ltd, 1979. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VP-9780140431162
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Book Description Penguin Classics August 1979, 1979. Paper Back. Book Condition: New. 'Considered revolutionary in its day, Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson is to the biography what Tom Jones or perhaps even Tristram Shandy are to the novel. Instead of writing a deferential and ponderous account of Johnson's public life, Boswell renders a vivid picture of the complete man, incorporating conversations and personal letters into what is often considered the greatest biography yet written. Though its considerable heft (over 1200 pages) may seem daunting to the modern reader, The Life compels by the force of first-hand accounts and copious observation. The most cogent portions involve Johnson in the last quarter of his life, as Boswell did not make Johnson's acquaintance until the latter was in his mid-fifties. This fact is the book's most oft-cited criticism, since Johnson is remembered more as a sagacious socialite than the poverty-stricken writer that he was for most of his life. The Life of Samuel Johnson may have immortalized Johnson, but it equally promotes Boswell. Adopting a narrative style that leans toward the self-conscious, Boswell makes himself something of a hero, viewing Johnson in a novelistic frame and achieving (in the words of Claude Rawson) 'a sharp penetration of character, a fine sense of climax and anticlimax, and a graphic economy of portraiture.' Of this, Johnson would heartily approve, for he once famously said, 'biography is, of the various kinds of narrative writing, that which is most eagerly read, and most easily applied to the purposes of life.'. Bookseller Inventory # 20070607107173
Book Description 1979. Paperback. Book Condition: New. new trade paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 012502
Book Description Penguin Classics. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Abridged. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140431160
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97801404311621.0
Book Description Penguin Classics, 1979. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. reprint edition. 384 pages. 7.75x5.00x0.75 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0140431160
Book Description Penguin Classics. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140431160