The Life of Johnson (Abridged) (Google eBook)

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Digireads.com Publishing, Jan 1, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography
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Samuel Johnson, LL.D., is famously known for single-handedly creating the first recognized dictionary of the English language, just one of many his many renowned accomplishments. The biography of this remarkable writer, dramatist, poet, and moralist was penned by his friend, James Boswell, in 1791. An immediate success upon its publication, this work has come to be considered the greatest biography produced in the English language, and has earned Boswell the reputation as a wonderfully sharp and methodical artist of the biography. The wealth of detail and charming characterization of Johnson can be attributed to Boswell's diligent journal-keeping and excellent memory. He often initiated psychologically probing conversations to explore Johnson's character. He also collected a mass of letters to and about Johnson, and worked diligently to authenticate anecdotes about the man. The result of these efforts is a charming and accurate portrait of a literary idol.
  

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About the author (2004)

James Boswell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1740 of an old and honored family. As a young man, Boswell was ambitious to have a literary career but reluctantly obeying the wishes of his father, a Scottish Judge, he followed a career in the law. He was admitted to the Scottish bar in 1766. However, his legal practice did not prevent him from writing a series of periodical essays, The Hypochondriac (1777-83), and his Journal of a Tour of the Hebrides (1785), was an account of the journey to the outer islands of Scotland undertaken with Samuel Johnson in 1773. In addition, Boswell wrote the impulsively frank Journals, private papers lost to history until they were discovered by modern scholars and issued in a multivolume set. Known during much of his life as Corsican Boswell for his authorship of An Account of Corsica in 1768, his first considerable work, Boswell now bears a name that is synonymous with biographer. The reason rests in the achievement of his Life of Samuel Johnson published in 1791, seven years after the death of Johnson. Boswell recorded in his diary the anxiety of the long-awaited encounter with Johnson, on May 16, 1763, in the back parlor of a London bookstore, and upon their first meeting he began collecting Johnson's conversations and opinions. Johnson was a daunting subject for a biographer, in part because of his extraordinary, outsized presence and, in part because Johnson himself was a pioneer in the art of literary biography. Boswell met the challenge by taking an anecdotal, year-by-year approach to the wealth of biographical material he gathered. Boswell died in 1795.

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