Samuel Johnson: A Biography

James Boswell is a hard act to follow. His Life of Johnson, written at close range after more hours in pubs and miles of travel with his eccentric subject than most could have withstood, is detailed, witty, literate and still engaging over two centuries later. It sets a high bar for biography; Boswell himself calls the undertaking “a presumptuous task.” But searching hindsight, generations of scholarship and a clear sense of contemporary purposes can more than justify a new look at a life as rich and strange as Samuel Johnson’s.


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