"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.
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