Started by facehugger, April 07, 2007, 12:36:10 AM
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Quote from: SimonNZ on January 21, 2023, 04:52:04 PMOnly intended to read the section on Adlai Stevenson, but that is so well written I'll be doing the whole book.
Quote from: Brian on January 21, 2023, 06:11:58 PMWhat unites the six men being discussed? Is there a theme?
Quote from: SimonNZ on January 27, 2023, 03:23:05 PMStarted:Even though this is 1400 pages I can tell from the first 50 that its going to be a fast, fun read.
Quote from: ultralinear on January 28, 2023, 02:37:39 AMOh that's my Desert Island book - I have the 1896 Birrell edition in 6 volumes, which I discovered languishing unappreciated in a South London junk shop more than 30 years ago.A lot of it comes down to whether you like Boswell as a person. No doubt his puppyish enthusiasm could be wearing at times - Johnson would occasionally snap at him for it - all of which he would faithfully record, the insults along with the affection - but there can be little doubt that he must have made a very cheerful companion. And still does.His London Journal 1762-1763 is a very entertaining read. It covers the period up to his first meeting with Johnson, but is probably more famous for the "Louisa episode", in which he gives a day-by-day account of how his plan to achieve a pox-free sex life came to nothing in spectacular fashion, and has to be one of the most hilarious things ever set down in print. It's the combination of preening self-regard - he finds himself endlessly fascinating - with the continual pratfalls and humiliation, all of it told with engaging frankness.
Quote from: SimonNZ on January 28, 2023, 09:49:28 PMI'll probably be doing the London Journal not to long after finishing the Life, so its good to hear you rate it well. Have you read any of the other of the Journal volumes? I see them in secondhand shops from time to time, so should grab them. I saw the Hebrides volume just yesterday.
Quote from: ultralinear on January 29, 2023, 11:14:40 AMI have the 1766-1769 volume published under the title of Boswell In Search of a Wife, his future responsibilities as Laird of Auchinleck having begun by then to weigh upon him. Not a straightforward quest, seeing as there cannot have been many in his social circle not fully acquainted with the details of his life, including how often he'd caught the clap. I don't know if the word discretion was in Johnson's Dictionary, but it doesn't seem to have been in Boswell's. His writing has an immediacy which was unusual if not unique at a time when there seems to have been a general expectation that the printed word needed to have a certain grandeur about it. There's nothing pompous about Boswell - he puts you right there at the chop-house table, squeezed in between Joshua Reynolds and Oliver Goldsmith, capturing scraps of conversation and inconsequential remarks overheard. Somewhere (it might be in the Life) he records an evening in a tavern with Johnson, who is struggling to make himself heard over the hilarity emanating from the next table where a group of country curates up in town for some purpose are noisily getting hammered. Eventually Johnson leans forward to observe irritably that "this merriment of parsons is very provoking." And you can see it clearly - the frown, the harumphing, turning round to cast looks of disapproval - it doesn't mean anything, in the grand scheme of things, but in that moment Johnson is brought back to life.
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