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The Life of Samuel Johnson (Penguin Classics) Paperback – November 19, 2008
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About the Author
David Womersley is the Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on English literature from the Renaissance to the early nineteenth century. For Penguin he has edited Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Augustan Critical Writing, Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful and Other Pre-Revolutionary Writings, and Samuel Johnson's Selected Essays.
Top Customer Reviews
Johnson was perhaps England's best known writer during his last several decades and one of the most famous in the world besides being widely known and renowned for lexicographical and other accomplishments. However, this book's greatness and fame are such that he has long been known primarily via it. Many read it who have read very little or none of him, showing that, unlike nearly all biographies, it has earned a life of its own. There are many reasons for this, not least the fine writing. Even more fundamental is that the book vividly brings an exciting, integral, and profoundly influential era to life. It covers the late Enlightenment when many of the most important people to ever live were prominent.Read more ›
Normally I would never a proceed through such a highly-regarded classic like this, but Boswell jumps from topic to topic so frequently, it's almost like each new paragraph is about an entirely different subject. I suppose this would have irked me had I approached this in a focused, solitary way, but as it was it made it possible get through one nugget at a time.
Maybe you should try it. I know of few who have managed to negotiate this one conventionally.
Anyhow, more to the point. If you're fishing around for a good edition, I would definitely go with this Penguin Classics edition, which has copious footnotes and some other stuff. The other one you see everywhere, the Oxford World's Classics has -- unusually for that series -- zilch for footnotes!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
James Boswell was the ultimate fan-boy. On page 702 (the text of the Penguin Classic is a little over a thousand pages, plus indexes and notes), Boswell tells a group of men, “I... Read morePublished 19 months ago by LeoM
If you live near or are visiting London be sure to stop at the 300 year old Dr Johnson House in London near Gunpowder square. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Christopher Kelly
Incomparable biography (or stalker's notes) of the great Tory grump Dr Samuel Johnson, packed with wit and wisdom. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
This biography is a masterpiece in and of itself. It was the most thorough tracing of a man's life that I have ever read. Read morePublished on February 27, 2014 by Anthony
This is inspiring and a reminder of classroom days, when sitting and quietly absorbing literary classics was a real luxury. Will save for the kids.Published on January 13, 2014 by maria
This is a fine abridgment of the ultimate biography. You can't go wrong with this one. Once you become a fan, you can move onto the unabridged. Read morePublished on September 28, 2011 by Beowulf
This book is more of a chronicle interspersed with snatches of Johnson's tabletalk than a full-fledged biography. It is long and dry and boring. Read morePublished on February 22, 2011 by frothy