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Customer Review

5 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome prig, July 21, 2009
This review is from: Life of Johnson (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This biography is one of the "classics" of English literature. Unfortunately, I found the subject, Samuel Johnson, a thoroughly unlikeable, arrogant prig. Despite Boswell's best efforts at hero worship, I could not get past Johnson's self-righteousness.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 22, 2011 6:42:45 AM PDT
greenhornet says:
I don't know what you have read , but it couldn't have been the Life. Read it again, if I'm wrong. You won't regret it. Try reading some of Johnson's works. He was quite a generous man.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2012 5:11:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 26, 2013 10:24:51 AM PDT
We know both the genius and the faults of Johnson only because of the honesty of Boswell, who does not concoct a fictional Johnson but portrays the real one. Similarly we know both the perfection of Jesus and the faults of the apostles because of the honesty of the evangelists. What a debt we owe to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Boswell.
--
PS After finally finishing the entire MP3 set -- I had to take a break in the middle for the sake of my sanity -- I have a couple of comments to add:
(1) Since Boswell was from Scotland, it would be good to hear this book read by a reader from that same country, but one capable of also providing a proper accent for Johnson and others from England. I think that would differentiate the voices and add greatly to the listenability of the work.
(2) One may bash Johnson for opposing the American revolution or praise him for opposing the slave trade, but in his mind the existence of slavery clouded the ideals of the revolution. He perceived the chasm between reality and idealism, a chasm that still challenges the American experiment.
(3) However difficult Johnson was as a person, his great achievement as the first lexicographer of the English language makes him a pinnacle of our literature. As he says, It took 40 Frenchmen 40 years to make that dictionary, but it took one Englishman only 8 years. And the Lives of the English Poets almost equals that achievement. Certainly one so creative is entitled to be a little cranky once in a while, and never to suffer fools gladly--or foolish slips by friends.
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