The Boswellian Hero
Boswell's Life of Johnson, Tour of the Hebrides, and Tour to Corsica are controlled, argues William Dowling, by "a single conception of the heroic character, one that reaches beyond the particular narrative situation to a final vision of man's dilemma in the modern world." Samuel Johnson and Pascal Paoli, the great protagonists of the three major narratives Boswell published during his lifetime, are heroic spirits who manage to survive in an age of spiritual disintegration only by dwelling within imperiled private worlds of coherence and belief. The Boswellian Hero, the first comprehensive thematic study of Boswellian narrative, is also a work with strong theoretical implications for students of biography as a genre. Biography exists as literature, according to Dowling, only in relation to formal or objective interpretations of its meaning--to read the Life of Johnson as a literary work is to dissociate its biographical hero from any "real" or "historical" Samuel Johnson in the same way one dissociates Shakespeare's Richard III from Richard III of England. Although The Boswellian Hero promises to establish its importance in Boswell studies immediately, it will also be of significant interest to readers concerned with the hero in literature, with biography as a narrative form, and with the complex theoretical problem of "factual" or "historical" literature.
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Account of Corsica actual Aesthetic Distance Anatomy of Criticism ancient aspect autonomy becomes begins belief biography bios form Boswell Boswell's portrait Boswell's portrayal Boswell's role Boswellian narrative century character Christian hero coherence comedy comic conflict context conventional conversation Corsican society discover dramatic eighteenth eighteenth-century English feudal figure final Genoese Geoffrey Scott Hebrides hero's heroic past heroism Highland journey hypochondria idea ideal imagination intellectual island James Boswell John Johnson appears Johnson as hero Johnson scholar kind literature living London meaning metaphor mind moral moves myth narrator and hero nature notion objective ordinary orthodoxy Paoli Pascal Paoli perceive perception philosopher Plutarch political portrays present primitivism principle Raasay Rasselas readers reality reminds represents response romance Rousseau Samuel Johnson scenes scepticism Scottish Highlands sense social son's spiritual isolation struggle superiority symbolic takes theme theory tion Tour to Corsica tragedy tragic traveler universe of discourse vision well's
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