New Light on Boswell: Critical and Historical Essays on the Occasion of the Bicententary of the Life of Johnson

Boswell’s Life of Johnson is established as one of the foremost literary biographies in the English language. This collection of new essays, commemorating its bicentenary, investigates Boswell’s achievements and limitations in both literary and personal contexts, and goes beyond the Life to examine the full range of Boswell’s writings and interests (in legal, social, theological, political and linguistic fields). Drawing Boswell out of Johnson’s shadow, the volume places him in a wider context, juxtaposing Boswell with other contemporaries and compatriots in the Scottish enlightenment, such as Hume, Robertson and Blair. In addition it investigates some of the critical and theoretical questions surrounding the notion of biographical representation in the Life itself. Boswell emerges as a writer engaged throughout his literary career in constructing a self or series of selves out of his divided Scottish identity. This collection combines new archival research with fresh critical perspectives and constitutes a timely review of Boswell’s current status in eighteenth-century literary studies.


Preface and acknowledgements; Abbreviations; Notes on contributors; Introduction: Boswell’s Ambiguity David Daiches; Part I. Boswell and Eighteenth-Century Scottish Culture; 1. Boswell and the rhetoric of friendship Thomas Crawford; 2. Scottish divines and legal lairds: Boswell’s Scots presbyterian identity Richard B. Sher; 3. Boswell and the Scotticism Pat Rogers; 4. Boswell as man of letters Joan H. Pittock; Part II. Contexts for the Life of Johnson: 5. Boswell’s liberty-loving Account of Corsica and the art of travel literature Thomas M. Curley; 6. Boswell and sympathy: the trial and execution of John Reid Gordon Turnbull; 7. Boswell and Hume: the deathbed interview Richard B. Swchwrtz; 8. ‘This philosophical melancholy’: style and self in Boswell and Hume Susan Manning; Part III. The Life of Johnson Reconsidered: 9. The originality of Boswell’s version of Johnson’s quarrel with Lord Chesterfield John J. Burke, Jr.; 10. Self-restraint and self-display in the authorial comments in the Life of Johnson Marlies K. Danziger; 11. The conversations in the Life of Johnson Paul J. Korshin; 12. Remembering the hero in Boswell’s Life of Johnson Donna Heiland; 13. Truth and artifice in Boswell’s Life of Johnson Greg Clingham; Index.