Write a 2 page essay on James Boswells The Life of Samuel Johnson L.L.D.
One cannot but agree with Boswell’s tribute to Johnson’s cutting wit as it shines through in his quotations, such as “Mankind have a great aversion to intellectual labor” (2975). Johnson’s personal courage is also emphasized with examples by Boswell.
The biography is made more credible by Boswell’s inclusion of the less admirable side of Johnson. Boswell admits that Johnson was “not a temperate man either in eating or drinking” (2977). Boswell also indicates Johnson’s “spirit of contradiction” (2983), his melancholy, depression over poverty, and his rough dress. It is these which ensure that Johnson remains appealingly human: particularly the confession that “praise, in general, was pleasing to him” (2970).
Johnson shows a trace of class snobbishness. His belief in “the ridiculousness of the argument for the equality of mankind” (2986), shows a facet of his personality which is contradictory to his great intelligence. He is very submissive to the king: “It was not for me to bandy civilities with my sovereign” (2979).
Boswell’s account of Johnson’s last days is very poignant, especially in the light of Johnson’s fear of death. Johnson’s words, “I will be conquered. I will not capitulate” (2990) shine with courage.
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