The Life of Samuel Johnson
Notoriously and self-confessedly intemperate, Boswell shared with Johnson a huge appetite for life and threw equal energy into recording its every aspect in minute but telling detail. This irrepressible Scotsman was 'always studying human nature and making exper...more
In the history books they will tell you Samuel Johnson is dead these 200 years, but I say No Sir. He’s alive, here, right here. He’s walking and talking and wringing the necks of fools right here.
In this book’s oceanic vastness of pages Boswell the drunk, the fool, the butt of japes, the ignoble toady, creates the reality tv of 18th century London. There are verbat...more
1971-1972 Me and Samuel Johnson
In 1971, a division. The basics are in place, grown-up life is beginning. The ways of knowing are established (in 1971 I was still waiting on history) and their associated modes of production - how to write, compose, do philosophy are known in a preliminary fashion. The period of euphoric, youthful discovery is over: nine important authors in about...more
Weird that just in the time since then, the 1980s, enough has happened that this now feels more distant historically. And the slightly slow style--it's actually very quick and succinct compared to the writing style of the time--made it very hard to focus on.
I couldn't get very fa...more
In fact, it is a stretch to call this a biography at all. It does not paint a complete portrait of Johnson by any means. It does little to explicate his works or put them in the context of his life. What it does, is provide long successi...more
For example, I would dearly like to know more about how Johnson approached his great dictionary of The English Language, but all Boswell can come up with is this snippet of conversation between Johnson and himself.
That said, this book was such a rich, engaging and deeply immersive look at Johnson and his coterie (including Goldsmith who I developed a fondness for) that when it came to ending the book, I found myself crying for the death of Samuel John...more
At first, you may find it a bit difficult to read this groundbreaking biography which J...more
We learn from other sources (outside of Boswell) that Boswell himself was something of an annoying 18th century star f__ker, but thank God he was - because reading this book is like being a part of...more
I googled so that I could share a couple of my favorite Johnson quotes, which are pretty widely known, but come from this book which is definitely worth reading if you like biographies:
"Sir, a woman's pre...more
Frankly, I almost quit due to both the antique style and Boswell's gushing hero worship, however I eventually got a feel for both and plunged on. It was worth it. Johnson was probably not an easy man to know. He certainl...more
Reproducing volumes of letters that Samuel Johnson wrote and received is definit...more
My favorite quote is "BOSWELL. 'Is not the Giant's-Causeway worth seeing?' JOHNSON. 'Worth seeing? yes; but not worth going to see.'" This describes my recent inclination NOT to go places.
End of his life, end of the book: "I shall, therefore, not say one word of my own, but adopt those of an eminent friend,...more