Introduced by Ian McGowan. Samuel Johnson and James Boswell spent the autumn of 1773 touring the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland. Both kept detailed notes of their impressions, and later published separate accounts of their journey. These accounts of their great tour contain some of the finest pieces of travel writing ever produced: they are magnificent historical documents and also portraits of two extraordinary personalities. In the vivid prose of these two famous men of letters, the Highlands and the Western Islands spring to life. The juxtaposition of the two very different accounts creates an unsurpassed portrait of a society which was utterly alien to the Europe of the Enlightenment, and which was straining on the brink of calamitous change. These great masterpieces, entertaining, profound, and marvellously readable are also our last chronicles of a lost age and people.
From the General Introduction: "Dr. Johnson's reaction to Shakespeare's tragedies is a curious one, compounded as it is of deep emotional involvement in a few scenes in some plays and a strange dispassionateness toward most of the others. I suspect that his emotional involvement took root when he read Shakespeare as a boy--one remembers the terror he experienced in reading of the Ghost in _Hamlet_, and it was probably also as a boy that he suffered that shock of horrified outrage and grief at the death of Cordelia that prevented him from rereading the scene until be came to edit the play. Johnson's deepest feelings and convictions, Professor Clifford has recently reminded us, can be traced back to his childhood and adolescence."