Download Samuel Johnson: The Struggle by Jeffrey Meyers PDF

By Jeffrey Meyers

Ford Madox Ford declared Samuel Johnson “the such a lot tragic of all our significant literary figures.” Blessed with a powerful mind and a burning ardour for concepts, Johnson additionally struggled all through his lifestyles with psychological instability and various actual defects. essentially the most illustrious figures of the English literary culture, Johnson made his reputation as poet, essayist, critic, dictionary-maker, conversationalist, and all-around larger-than-life character. His luck was once the entire better for the adversity he needed to conquer achieve it.

Drawing on a life of examine of Johnson and his period, in addition to a wide range of recent archival fabrics, famous biographer Jeffrey Meyers tells the intense tale of 1 of the nice geniuses of English letters. Johnson emerges in his portrait as a mass of contradictions: lazy and vigorous, competitive and gentle, depression and witty, comforted but affected by faith. He was once bodily repulsive and slovenly in costume and behavior, yet his social rules have been revolutionary and humane—he strongly antagonistic slavery and the imperial exploitation of indigenous peoples. He gave generously to the negative and homeless, rescued prostitutes, and defended criminals who’d been condemned to hold. yet those charitable acts couldn't dispel the darkness that clouded his international: overwhelming guilt and worry of everlasting damnation.

A masterful portrait of an excellent and tormented determine, this e-book reintroduces a brand new new release of readers to the heroic Dr. Johnson.

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Extra resources for Samuel Johnson: The Struggle

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14 Meyers_Text_Version7:Layout 1 26 7/2/08 11:24 AM Page 26 SAMUEL JOHNSON For his translation from Homer, Sam chose the deeply moving passage in which the Trojan hero Hector, departing to fight the Greeks and destined to be slain by Achilles, bids farewell to his devoted wife, Andromache, and his infant son, Astyanax. The baby, taken from his nurse’s arms, is frightened by the flash of light reflected on his father’s helmet. Pope’s superbly compressed translation of these lines mentions a plumed crest on top of the helmet: Thus having spoke, th’illustrious Chief of Troy Stretch’d his fond Arms to clasp the lovely Boy.

2 Meyers_Text_Version7:Layout 1 7/2/08 11:24 AM Page 35 V I L E M E L A N C H O LY , 1728–1730 35 The young Johnson began his first term with a highly idealized view of Oxford, soon dispelled by the appalling teaching and low intellectual standards. His disillusionment as a student was complete, yet in later life he frequently praised the university. Speaking of Oxford and Cambridge in Idler 33, he declared that “the number of learned persons in these celebrated seats, is still considerable, and more conveniences and opportunities for study still subsist in them, than in any other place.

Pope’s superbly compressed translation of these lines mentions a plumed crest on top of the helmet: Thus having spoke, th’illustrious Chief of Troy Stretch’d his fond Arms to clasp the lovely Boy. The Babe clung crying to his Nurse’s Breast, Scar’d at the dazzling Helm, and nodding Crest. Adding a fifth line and off-rhymed triplet, Sam offered a worthy rival to Pope: Hector, this speaking, with extended hands From the fair nurse Astyanax demands. The child starts back affrighted at the blaze Of light reflected from the polish’d brass.

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