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Samuel Johnson

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  146 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
W. Jackson Bate's Samuel Johnson has been hailed as a supreme example of the biographer's art and the first great modern life of Johnson. Bate's work is literary biography at its finest, delving into the character that formed Johnson's awesome intellect and fueled his prodigious output. When first published, this magisterial biography won the Pulitzer Prize, the National B ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published June 1st 1998 by Counterpoint (first published 1977)
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Gary Mesick
Oct 19, 2009 Gary Mesick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bate was a genius. I was fortunate enough to catch his course on "The Age of Samuel Johnson," where he walked us through most of this book day by day. I can still remember his lecture on Johnson's death--which is captured here. The definitive Johnson bio.
Adam Stevenson
Mar 13, 2012 Adam Stevenson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'd say this is the best Johnson biography of them all. Better even than Boswell's, this not only gives us the words and the moments, but a plausible and interesting psychological meaning to them. I've read 5 or six lives of Johnson's now and this is my favourite.
Joseph Millo
Nov 15, 2016 Joseph Millo rated it it was amazing
The author is brilliantly successful when he sticks to biography – Johnson’s rise from abject poverty to renown, his dreams and failures, his perseverance against years of Grub Street anonymity, his marriage, his character and his literature. The author also excels at integrating literary criticism of Johnson's works into the biographical stream.

But I was sometimes frustrated when the author attempted to psychoanalyze Johnson. The author avoids modern medical terms to describe Johnson’s most co
Jul 24, 2013 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Samuel Johnson" by Walter Jackson Bate is a well-researched biography of this unique and wonderful genius. Cursed by poor health and poverty, Johnson rose not through bald ambition but purely by his will to learn and to be a positive force for enlightenment. Brutally honest with himself and shedding all illusion about his fellow man, he fought through periods of melancholy and near madness to enlist a personal faith that, along with help from generous and appreciative friends, sustained him ade ...more
Dec 15, 2013 William rated it it was amazing
The Freudian psychoanalytic angle gets a little tiresome after a while, but otherwise an impressively researched, interestingly told narrative of a truly fascinating life.
Christopher Potter
Dec 25, 2015 Christopher Potter rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary. Highly recommended for those who already appreciate Johnson. Not recommended for others.
Nov 08, 2012 S.N. rated it it was amazing
A great biography
Aug 02, 2009 umberto rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This biography is readable and worth respect regarding Professor Bate's scholarship and excellent style of writing with related references. The best of all Dr Johnson's biographies I have read.
Jul 28, 2011 Sherry rated it it was ok
This was soooooo boring!
Apr 05, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A labor of love by one of our best teachers and critics. Sympathetic.Well written, a pleasure to read.
Apr 17, 2014 Sharon rated it it was ok
too long-winded
Scott Macdougall
Apr 06, 2010 Scott Macdougall rated it it was amazing
Perhaps a test for biography is the degree to which the author's life has been changed by her encounter with her subject. A sense of the high wonder that Johnson can engender permeates Bate's book.
Dec 17, 2010 Maria rated it it was amazing
First rate biography.
Jeff Wills
Jan 04, 2012 Jeff Wills rated it it was amazing
The finest biography I've read to date. This enthralling and highly intelligent work of art is a real pleasure to read.
David G.
Oct 18, 2015 David G. rated it it was amazing
A slow read, but rewarding. Deserves all the awards it got!
May 30, 2010 Larry rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books. Samuel Johnson was one of the greatest writers in the English language. Bate emphasizes Johnson's keen psychological insight into the "vanity of human wishes."
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Literary critic Walter Jackson Bate twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, first for his work on the Romantic poet John Keats, and later for that on lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson.
More about Walter Jackson Bate...

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