Johnson without Boswell
A Contemporary Portrait of Samuel Johnson
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First published in 1940, Johnson without Boswell is about Samuel Johnson, the dictator of eighteenth-century English letters. It has become almost axiomatic never to mention that mammoth of wit and wisdom without linking him at least in thought with his great biographer, James Boswell. But there were others who knew him well, and who set down what they knew – among them Johnson himself in his letters and autobiographical fragments, his great friend Mrs. Thale in her Anecdotes, and Sir John Hawkins in his Life. From these and others, excerpted and skilfully pieced together in this volume by Hugh Kingsmill, there emerges a portrait of Johnson more domestic and less alarming than Boswell’s. But something of curmudgeon still, who could terrorise his table-companions by brandishing a knife and bellowing that by God he could eat a bit more. The result is a volume richly readable and informative, which can be read with pleasure either wholly or in part, especially by students of English literature.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Childhood, Youth and Marriage, 1709-1737 2. In London, 1737-1752 3. In London, 1753-1762 4. After the Pension, 1762-1781 5. The Last Years, 1781-1784 Bibliography Index