James Boswell: As His Contemporaries Saw Him
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.
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Account of Corsica acquaintance admiration agreeable Andrew Erskine anecdotes Anna Seward appeared April Auchinleck Baretti Biographer Boswell and William Boswell in Extremes Boswell's London Journal Boswelliana Bozzy Burke character conversation Correspondence of James criticism DAILY ADVERTISER David Garrick dear dined Doctor Dr Johnson Edinburgh EDMOND MALONE Eglinton English entertaining Farington father fellow FRANCES BURNEY genius Gentleman's Magazine Goldsmith Grand Tour happy heard Hebrides HESTER LYNCH PIOZZI HESTER LYNCH THRALE honour HORACE WALPOLE humour imagination James Boswell James Boswell Relating Joseph Farington knew lady Langton late laughing literary lively LL.D Lord Madam manner March melancholy Memoirs mind Miss Montagu MORNING POST NANCY TEMPLE never observed opinion Paoli person published Samuel Johnson Scotland Sir John Hawkins Sir Joshua Reynolds spirits talk tell thing Thomas thought tion told vanity verses virtues WILLIAM JOHNSON TEMPLE wish write wrote