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.
The Life of Samuel Johnson is a biography of Dr. Samuel Johnson written by James Boswell. It is regarded as an important stage in the development of the modern genre of biography; many have claimed it as the greatest biography written in English. Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. Johnson was a devout Anglican and committed Tory, and has been described as "arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history." He is also the subject of "the most famous single work of biographical art in the whole of literature": James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson.
Few major authors have generated such wildly fluctuating estimates over the years as James Boswell. Both as a writer and as a man, he has stirred debate for more than two centuries. Scholars and critics have differed as to whether his Life of Samuel Johnson, published in 1791, is the finest biography in English or just "a pretty book" of questionable accuracy. One commentator recently argued that his published journals are "the greatest English autobiographical epic," while another has dismissed it as the "diary of a nobody." Boswell has been acclaimed the greatest of modern biographers, but also attacked as a mere sycophant and fool. In this collection drawn from letters, diaries, memoirs, book reviews, and newspaper articles, we learn how contemporaries responded to the same issues that puzzle and divide critics today. From that we see how estimates of James Boswell fluctuated just as wildly in his day as in ours. Lyle Larsen teaches English at Santa Monica College.
Edinburgh-born James Boswell, at twenty-two, kept a daily diary of his eventful second stay in London from 1762 to 1763. This journal, not discovered for more than 150 years, is a deft, frank and artful record of adventures ranging from his vividly recounted love affair with a Covent Garden actress to his first amusingly bruising meeting with Samuel Johnson, to whom Boswell would later become both friend and biographer. The London Journal 1762-63 is a witty, incisive and compellingly candid testament to Boswell's prolific talents.