The Life of Samuel Johnson

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Penguin UK, Oct 30, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 1312 pages

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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Contents

A Note on the Text
THE LIFE OF SAMUELJOHNSON
Notes
Selected Variants in the First Three Editions
Chronologies
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

James Boswell (1740-1795) was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh. He is best known as the biographer of Samuel Johnson. Boswell is known for taking voracious notes on the grand tour of Europe that he took as a young nobleman and, subsequently, of his tour to Scotland with Johnson. He also recorded meetings and conversations with eminent individuals belonging to The Club, including David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Joshua Reynolds and Oliver Goldsmith.

David Womersley is the Thomas Warton Professor of Literature at the University of Oxford. Among his interests are Jonathan Swift (he was the general editor of the CUP edition of Swift), Daniel Defoe and Edward Gibbon, whose Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire he edited for Penguin Classics.

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