Dr Samuel Johnson was a man of remarkable accomplishments, having distinguished himself as a poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, linguist, etymologist, critic, and journalist, the melancholy ornament of the literary, political, and social worlds of eighteenth century London. Yet he would, perhaps, be little remembered today were it not for his biography, a labor of love painstakingly assembled by his admirer, disciple, and friend James Boswell
Who to the sage devoted from his youth,
Imbib'd from him the sacred love of truth;
The keen research, the exercise of mind,
And that best art, the art to know mankind.
Boswell's Life of Johnson follows the subject's dictum that a man's character is best revealed in his mundane, everyday life rather than his public works. The result is not only a book that is a Life, but a book that lives, and perhaps "the most perfect example of biography that was ever exhibited."
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