Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Boswell's Life of Johnson

Dr Samuel Johnson was a man of remarkable accomplishments, having distinguished himself as a poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, linguist, etymologist, critic, and journalist, the melancholy ornament of the literary, political, and social worlds of eighteenth century London.  Yet he would, perhaps, be little remembered today were it not for his biography, a labor of love painstakingly assembled by his admirer, disciple, and friend James Boswell

     Who to the sage devoted from his youth,
     Imbib'd from him the sacred love of truth;
     The keen research, the exercise of mind,
     And that best art, the art to know mankind.

Boswell's Life of Johnson follows the subject's dictum that a man's character is best revealed in his mundane, everyday life rather than his public works.  The result is not only a book that is a Life, but a book that lives, and perhaps "the most perfect example of biography that was ever exhibited."

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