The Journals of James Boswell, 1762-1795

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Yale University Press, Aug 1, 1994 - Literary Criticism - 412 pages
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Writer, rake, wit, traveler, and man-about-town, James Boswell kept a diary for thirty-three years, beginning just before his first trip to London and extending over his eventful life until shortly before his death in 1795. This one-volume selection of Boswell's journal entries, gathered and introduced by the distinguished writer John Wain, brings to life both a pre-eminent chronicler of eighteenth-century Britain and the tumultuous land about which he wrote so well.
 

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The journals of James Boswell, 1762-1795

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In 1764, at the age of 24, Boswell sent an autobiographical sketch to Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Boswell promised, "I shall not conceal my weaknesses and follies. I shall not even conceal my crimes.'' For ... Read full review

Contents

The Mournful Case of Poor Misfortunate
218
The Last Ten Years
334
Notes
383

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About the author (1994)

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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