Boswell’s Life of Johnson
New Questions, New Answers

Edited by John A. Vance


"For anyone wishing to be brought up to date on current thinking about the Life, this volume is a must. . . . Vance's introduction skillfully reviews work on the Life since 1970, particuarly that concerned with the questions of Boswell's accuracy, artistry, and his own place in the Life."
Johnsonian Newsletter

"An indispensable acquisition . . . As Vance points out in his excellent introduction, much significant critical debate has taken place—among both Boswellians and Johnsonians—since the publication of Clifford's Twentieth Century Interpretations of Boswell's Life of Johnson."


When it first appeared in 1985, Boswell's Life of Johnson brought together the most recent and most lively assessments of the literary merit and historical accuracy of Boswell's biography. In an invigorating exchange placed at the center of the collection, Donald Greene's description of the Life as a fictionalized biography that screens the real, complex Johnson from view is challenged by Frederick Pottle's defense of Boswell's biographical method, of his sturdy compilation of detail that presents the factual rather than the fictional Johnson. Other essays explore the effect of Johnson's humor on the shaping of his image in the Life, the recent developments in literary criticism and the effect they have had on eighteenth-century studies, and the continuing interest of Boswell's Life as a showcase for members of Johnson's famous circle. The volume concludes with an assessment of the Boswellian problem—of the difficulties the Life presents to readers, scholars, and teachers.

Page count: 288 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

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John A. Vance is a professor of English at the University of Georgia. His essays in periodicals include studies of Milton, Dryden, Swift, Johnson, and Boswell, and his books include an annotated bibliography of Joseph and Thomas Warton and a literary biography of the two; he is also the author Samuel Johnson and the Sense of History (Georgia), and coauthor (with Donald Greene) of A Bibliography of Johnson Studies. William Wycherley and the Comedy of Fear is his most recent book.