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Dr. Johnson and Mr. Savage

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  97 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Dr. Johnson & Mr. Savage recounts a story of a mysterious eighteenth-century friendship between Richard Savage - poet, playwright, and convicted murderer - and the young Samuel Johnson, an unknown provincial schoolmaster just arrived in London to seek his literary fortune. In a book that the Times Literary Supplement has called "a chiaroscuro masterpiece, as gothic as ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 30th 1996 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1994)
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Dec 24, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My adoration for Samuel Johnson just seems to grow with every bookish encounter. His life was both odd and edifying, and as his friendship with Boswell testifies to he had a strange fondness for reprobates. Perhaps the most formative of his ne'er-do-well friendships was the one he had with Richard Savage, a poet and aristocratic foundling who's massive ire against his mother would spawn some truly astonishing original lyrical poetry.

Holmes' biography is a masterpiece of historical recreation. H
Jul 02, 2016 Jonfaith rated it liked it
It is the quality of that friendship I have tried to carry back over the dark river, and the impact it has had on the art of biography ever since.

2.5 stars

During 1738 and 1739 the young Samuel Johnson, struggling to find his way in London, made a fast friendship with the poet Richard Savage. The latter having been recently pardoned after murdering a patron in a pub brawl. On a few occasions the pair walked the streets, for want of lodging , and discussed literature and politics throughout the ni
Jan 19, 2016 John rated it it was amazing
I believe that this brilliant book utterly demolishes James Boswell's portrait of Samuel Johnson as a clubbable sage and oracle. Holmes proves beyond reasonable doubt that Johnson was a very troubled man - who struggled with emotional dysfunction and suffered terribly, the torments of the damned for much of his life. Johnson's friendship with Savage is Holmes' vehicle for exploring the really pitiable scope and depth of Johnson's disorders.

As far as I can tell Holmes' book prepares us for Jeffr
i really like how richard holmes lets reader see into his process as a biographer/researcher Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer though perhaps some will be irritated at his injection into "the truth", "history" etc.
savage was a wild poet and oppositionist and partyer in 1730-40's london, and johnson met him, johnson himself just getting to town and wanting to be a poet, writer. so the poor grotesque young johnson meets the poor grotesque old savage. biography eventually ensues.
Feb 28, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
Dr. Johnson & Mr. Savage demonstrates admirable historical detective work and a convincing conclusion that Johnson begins modern biography with his writing about his friend Richard Savage. However, the book as a whole foregrounds Savage so much and piles on the details of his life and art and experience so high, that Johnson fades into the background. Not entirely and Holmes has good insights into the young Johnson, but they come only after so much intricate detail and conjecture about Savag ...more
May 17, 2016 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderfully gripping and very funny book - the true story of Dr Johnson as a young man and his friend and mentor, Richard Savage. The author expertly reveals how the rascally Savage entirely pulled the wool over the eyes of the young Johnson and also demonstrates his own literary detective work, unearthing and analysing court records and other sources and bringing the two men and their period vividly back to life.
Jun 10, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing
What a book. Rarely is a work this scholarly such a pleasure to read. I have read two of Holmes's other books, "The Age of Wonder" and "Falling Upwards," but neither quite prepared me for this one, which is a true masterpiece of biography.

The book originates in 1744, when Samuel Johnson published his brilliant "The Life of Mr Richard Savage." Richard Savage was a celebrity in his own day, a poet, a womaniser, a drunk and a murderer, who flashed through eighteenth century London like a thunderbol
Aug 18, 2008 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Random pick at the library; I've never read Johnson or Boswell's Johnson etc. So far... incredibly well done. Sounds a little like an English Lit text, and it is I guess -- the early 18th c. birth of modern biography. But at least the first 1/3 is a gripping story about the friendship between the down-and-out ex-con/poet laureate/political dissenter (Savage) and the down-on-his-luck young schoolmaster/writer (Johnson) -- and the aftermath of the friendship.
May 10, 2015 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Samuel Johnson wrote a biography of poet Richard Savage, portraying him as a tragic genius. Richard Holmes looks at Savage's life and that of young Samuel Johnson, the relationship between them and the writing of biography. It all makes for a fascinating book. Savage was a colourful character, although not always an honest one about himself, and Johnson when young was very different from the character described by Boswell some thirty years later.
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The Great Cham beguiled by a fascinating rogue
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Biographer Richard Holmes was born in London, England on 5 November 1945 and educated at Downside School and Churchill College, Cambridge. His first book, Shelley:The Pursuit, was published in 1974 and won a Somerset Maugham Award. The first volume of his biography of the po
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