Monday, August 31, 2009

Samuel Johnson by Jeffrey Meyers *

Samuel Johnson: The Struggleby Jeffrey Meyers, published for 300th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's birth, itself struggles between research and relaxation. In the author's own critique of earlier Johnson biographies he observes:
James Clifford's first two volumes ... are heavily academic .. Walter Jackson Bate's biography is also academic ... John Wain's life is more readable, but he confessed "there is no research in the book."
Unfortunately for Jeffrey Meyers and his readers, significant source material has been uncovered since these earlier biographies, so maybe the author can be forgiven for filling with including so much primary source material. However, the narrative of Samuel Johnson's life is buries and the resulting volume is tedious, confusing and sleep inducing.

If you're interested in a biography of Samuel Johnson, I recommend The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell. Even though it was written over two centuries ago, it still out sells all the other Samuel Johnson biographies on Amazon!

No comments: