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Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763 (1950)

by James Boswell

Other authors: Frederick A. Pottle (Editor)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Journals of James Boswell (1)

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1,2821210,675 (4.09)51
Edinburgh-born James Boswell, at twenty-two, kept a daily diary of his eventful second stay in London from 1762 to 1763. This journal, not discovered for more than 150 years, is a deft, frank and artful record of adventures ranging from his vividly recounted love affair with a Covent Garden actress to his first amusingly bruising meeting with Samuel Johnson, to whom Boswell would later become both friend and biographer. The London Journal 1762-63 is a witty, incisive and compellingly candid testament to Boswell's prolific talents.… (more)
  1. 10
    The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. by James Boswell (uncultured)
    uncultured: Easier to read than Life of Johnson, more fun
  2. 01
    Hogarth : a life and a world by Jenny Uglow (uncultured)
    uncultured: Same bawdy Georgian era, this time chronicling the famous artist and printer. A bit more scholarly than Bozzie's journal, but Uglow has some terrific anecdotes about the goings-on...
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» See also 51 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Glorious stuff if you're into the 18th century, probably quite impenetrable if not, though Boswell is surely one of the greatest characters in literary history. Here we have him in all his youthful folly, living through what Sheridan quotes Fielding calling "a trifling age," (50), and doing a good deal of trifling himself. He flits between deep piety and evenings with prostitutes. He records: "I see too far into the system of things, to be much in earnest. I consider Mankind in general & therefore cannot take a part in their quarrels when divided into particular states and nations. I can see that after a war is over and a great quantity of cold & hunger & want of Sleep and torment endured by mortals, things are upon the whole, just as they were." He inquires into his own personality and realizes that "altho' the judgment may know that all is vanity, yet Passion may ardently pursue." "The pleasure of gratifying whim is very great. It is known only by whose who are whimsical."

He suggests to a friend that the world would be much better is "venereal delight" were permitted only to the virtuous, because priests could then "incite the Audience to Goodness by warmly and lusciously setting before their imaginations the transports of amorous Joy." That is right. Boswell thinks all would be well if only priests were also pornographers.

He fails to go out when his barber is sick, apparently being incapable of shaving himself. He sees another prostitute and describes her. He eats out. His friends are witty. And then he meets Jonson--which gives birth to a great book, of course. But after reading just the first volume of his journal, I'm pretty convinced that Boswell was both a more enjoyable man than Jonson, and, dare I say it, a vastly superior writer. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
As a professor of mine is wont to say, "Life ran very high in those days." ( )
  Stubb | Aug 28, 2018 |
I read this for a Samuel Johnson course in college, and it was my favorite reading of the course. Boswell is funny, lively, contradictory, adventuresome, flirtatious, remorseful, religious (and yes, misogynistic)--just as any 22-yr-old male embarked from home to the big city. Samuel Johnson was lucky to meet Boswell during the time covered by this journal. (And I was a lucky girl to have such a wonderful professor, Dr. Helen Louise McGuffie, noted Johnson scholar and generous soul, for the course.) ( )
  deckla | Jun 14, 2018 |
boring ( )
  mahallett | Sep 22, 2015 |
An intimate look into the day-to-day life of an 18th Century gentleman. A surprisingly fast, enjoyable and captivating read. ( )
  fedka | Feb 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Boswellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pottle, Frederick A.Editorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ackroyd, PeterForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Faye, Harold K.Mapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morley, ChristopherPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pottle, Frederick AlbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
First words
The ancient philosopher certainly gave a wise counsel when he said "Know thyself."
Quotations
"Conversation is the traffic [commerce] of the mind; for by exchanging ideas, we enrich one another." - West Digges (actor) as reported by Boswell.
"The mind of man [is] like a room, which is either made agreeable or the reverse by the pictures with which it is adorned." - George Dempster, 26 Feb 1763, as related by Boswell
"You have a light head, but a damned heavy a___ [arse?]; and, to be sure, such a man will run easily downhill, but it would be severe work to get him up." - Lord Eglington to Boswell, regarding his ability to start a thing, but inability to stick with it to the end.
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Edinburgh-born James Boswell, at twenty-two, kept a daily diary of his eventful second stay in London from 1762 to 1763. This journal, not discovered for more than 150 years, is a deft, frank and artful record of adventures ranging from his vividly recounted love affair with a Covent Garden actress to his first amusingly bruising meeting with Samuel Johnson, to whom Boswell would later become both friend and biographer. The London Journal 1762-63 is a witty, incisive and compellingly candid testament to Boswell's prolific talents.

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