For over two centuries Boswell's massive biography of Samuel Johnson has been both reverenced and reviled. Yet neither its admirers nor its critics have fully understood how the book was designed to work upon them. Boswell himself is partly to blame: throughout the Life he directs attention away from artistry to industry, from creative choices to dedicated researches. Yet his working manuscript, one of the twentieth century's greatest literary discoveries, tells a much different tale. Designing the Life of Johnson, the first study of its kind, reconstructs Boswell's models and methods by charting this textual labyrinth. It begins by analysing the stages that led to the first edition, goes on to reveal the impact of portrait and theatre-piece upon the structure of the Life, and ends by uncovering the transformation of Johnson from savage into sage. The result is a more subtle, more vital assessment of Boswell the designer - and an enhanced awareness of biography's power to make life into art.
Buy Designing the Life of Johnson book by Bruce Redford from Australia's Online Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(223mm x 144mm x 20mm)
Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:
Author Biography - Bruce Redford
Editor of the OUP/Princeton UP 5-volume edition of the Letters of Samuel Johnson, 1992-4; now editor of the Yale UP/Edinburgh UP edition of Boswell's Life of Johnson: An Edition of the Original Manuscript (vol. 2)