The Life of Samuel Johnson [Christmas Summary Classics]
Christmas Summary Classics
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The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.
James Boswell, born on October 18, 1740, was the son of Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, better known as Lord Auchinleck, one of the senators of the College of Justice, or Supreme Court, of Scotland. Boswell was educated at Edinburgh and Utrecht universities, and was called both to the Scots and the English Bar. He was early interested in letters, and while still a student, published some poems and magazine articles. Boswell was introduced to Dr. Johnson on May 16, 1763. The friendship rapidly ripened, and from 1772 to the death of the illustrious moralist, was unbroken. As an introduction to "The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D."--perhaps the greatest of all biographies--we can hardly do better than use the words of the biographer himself. "To write the life of him who excelled all mankind in writing the lives of others, and who, whether we consider his extraordinary endowments or his various works, has been equalled by few in any age, is an arduous, and may be reckoned in me a presumptuous, task. But as I had the honour and happiness of enjoying Dr. Johnson's friendship for upwards of twenty years; as I had the scheme of writing his life constantly in view; as he was well apprised of this circumstance, and from time to time obligingly satisfied my inquiries by communicating to me the incidents of his early years; and as I have spared no pains in obtaining materials concerning him, I flatter myself that few biographers have entered upon such a work as this with more advantages, independent of literary abilities, in which I am not vain enough to compare myself with some great names who have gone before me in this kind of writing." The "Life" was a signal success at the time of its publication, and even yet is unrivalled in the field of biography. Boswell latterly resided permanently in London, and was proprietor of, and principal contributor to, the "London Magazine". He died in his house in Great Portland Street on May 19, 1795.
- Zhingoora Books, November 2012
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