Friendships Across Ages: Johnson and Boswell : Holmes and Laski
Friendships Across Ages: Johnson and Boswell; Holmes and Laski considers each man and goes on to compare two unlikely but pivotal friendships. Through their writing and publishing, young James Boswell and Harold Laski both served their much older friends, Samuel Johnson and Oliver Wendell Holmes respectively, in brilliant fashion. Boswell's biography preserves Johnson for the present-day reader as richly as any other biography has ever done. Though less commonly acknowledged, Laski preserves Holmes in a similar fashion. Just as the greatest part of Johnson's fame lies not in his prolific literary efforts, but rather in his persona (as captured by his exchanges with Boswell), Holmes's place in history likewise cannot be based solely on his prolific professional writings, but instead more broadly on his persona, captured best in his correspondence with Laski.
Both Boswell and Laski were outcasts from the societies in which they lived: the former was a Scot, the latter a Jew. Both were, and continue to be, scorned: Laski as a boastful, prevaricating self-promoter, and Boswell as a buffoon, lecher, and drunk. However, each managed to befriend a much older man, a great man of his age, and carried on for twenty years an historically important relationship that was partly junior to mentor, partly son to father, but mostly stimulating mind to stimulating mind.
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American became biography Blackstone Boswell's British Catherine Drinker Bowen Chambers chapter four Civil commented Common Law death described Dictionary earlier chapter Eastwood economic Edinburgh England English Essential Holmes example Fanny father Frankfurter friends friendships Harold Laski Harvard Law School Holmes to Laski Holmes wrote Holmes-Laski Letters Holmes-Pollock Letters Holmes's writing intellectual interest James Boswell Jeffrey O'Connell John John Wain Johnson and Holmes journal Justice Holmes Justice Oliver Wendell Kingsley Martin Kramnick & Sherman Kramnick and Sheerman Laski and Boswell Laski to Holmes later lawyer Letter from Holmes Letter from Laski Lewis Einstein literary lived London Mark DeWolfe McAdam never note 30 note 44 note 9 Novick Oliver Wendell Holmes Oxford political Pollock Posner Pottle quoting relationship religion Richard Posner Samuel Johnson scholar social speech style supra note talk tells thought Thrale U.S. Supreme Court Wain wife Wilson words young