The Life of Samuel Johnson

Front Cover
Penguin, 1979 - Biography & Autobiography - 375 pages
26 Reviews
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.
  

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Review: Great Books of the Western World

User Review  - Garrett Starr - Goodreads

I have always wanted this collection, but over the years I purchased other books instead. When our church moved into our current digs, this entire collection was hidden away in a back room and covered ... Read full review

Review: The Life of Samuel Johnson

User Review  - Robert - Goodreads

When you major in what is called "English" at college, certain inconvenient figures present themselves. One is Ben Jonson who is inconvenient because it is so much more rewarding and taxing to spend ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
7
The Life of Samuel Johnson
31
3
343
Copyright

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About the author (1979)

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.

Christopher Hibbert: March 5, 1924 -- December 21, 2008 Historian Christopher Hibbert was born as Arthur Raymond Hibbert in Enderby, England in 1924. He dropped out of Oriel College to join the Army. He served with the London Irish Rifles and won the Military Cross. He earned a degree in history in 1948. Before becoming a full-time nonfiction writer, he worked as a real estate agent and a television critic for Truth magazine. He wrote more than 60 books throughout his lifetime including The Road to Tyburn (1957), Il Duce: The Life of Benito Mussolini(1962), George IV: Prince of Wales, 1762-1811 (1972), and George IV: Regent and King, 1812-1830 (1973). Hibbert was awarded the Heinemann Award for Literature in 1962 for The Destruction of Lord Raglan. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Geographical Society, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of Leicester. He died from bronchial pneumonia on December 21, 2008 at the age of 84.

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