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Johnson and Boswell

A Biography of Friendship

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In this book John Radner examines the fluctuating, close, and complex friendship enjoyed by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell, from the day they met in 1763 to the day when Boswell published his monumental Life of Johnson.

Drawing on everything Johnson and Boswell wrote to and about the other, this book charts the psychological currents that flowed between them as they scripted and directed their time together, questioned and advised, confided and held back. It explores the key longings and shifting tensions that distinguished this from each man's other long-term friendships, while it tracks in detail how Johnson and Boswell brought each other to life, challenged and confirmed each other, and used their deepening friendship to define and assess themselves. It tells a story that reaches through its specificity into the dynamics of most sustained friendships, with their breaks and reconnections, their silences and fresh intimacies, their continuities and transformations.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 04, 2013 – Radner's thorough examination of the profound, occasionally volatile 20 year friendship between authors Samuel Johnson and James Boswell begins with a young Boswell's search for a religious mentor and ends in his struggle to write his dear friend's posthumous biography. Johnson guided his protégée away from promiscuity and drinking and through many bouts of depression, often with tough love. Meanwhile Boswell gently prodded Johnson to explore the fear of death and damnation that haunted him. They shared many collaborative efforts, notably their 12 week journey through the Scottish Highlands and Hebrides, the respective journals of which both men turned into best-selling books. There were intellectual clashes: Boswell sided with American colonists while Johnson defended the British government; Johnson took issue with Boswell's friendship with David Hume though it was Johnson that helped Boswell through spiritual confusion after Hume's death. Finally, we see Boswell's anxiety over losing an aging, ailing Johnson that caused him to neglect correspondence in Johnson's final days, as well as the guilt and grief he worked through while writing the biography. Radner, professor emeritus of English at George Mason University, should be praised for his research and critical reflection, providing a window into a complex relationship between two brilliant men.
Johnson and Boswell
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  • $36.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 29, 2013
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Seller: Yale University Press
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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