(Book Jacket Status: Not Jacketed)
In 1773, the great Samuel Johnson–then 63–and his young friend and future biographer, James Boswell, traveled together around the coast of Scotland, each writing his own account of the 83-day journey. Published in one volume, the very different travelogues of this unlikely duo provide a fascinating picture not only of the Scottish Highlands but also of the relationship between two men whose fame would be forever entwined.
Johnson's account contains elegant descriptions and analyses of what was then a remote and rugged land. In contrast, the Scottish-born Boswell's journal of the trip focuses on the psychological landscape of his famously gruff and witty companion, and is part of the material he was already collecting for his future Life of Samuel Johnson, the masterly biography that would make his name.
Read together, the two accounts form both a unique classic of travel writing and a revelation of one of the most famous literary friendships.
About Samuel Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was born in Lichfield, England. Early in his career he lived by a variety of literary strategies (translation, biography, poetry, pamphleteering, commissions, hackwork) until embarking in 1747 on the greatest project of his career, the singlehanded compilation of the first major dictionary of the English language. Seven torturing, exhausting years of relentless work later it appeared, and his fame and reputation for the first time were assured. Over the succeeding decade Johnson devoted himself largely to essay writing, and in 1759 he published his famous philosophical tale, Rasselas, Or, The Prince of Abyssynia. Recognizing a lifetime of achievement, King George III in 1762 was persuaded to award him an annual pension. It was not until 1763 that Johnson met his future biographer, James Boswell. For the last 21 years of his life Dr. Johnson's wit and conversation would circulate ever more widely, taking on even mythic proportions. During this period he also published his magnificent Lives of the English Poets, a crowning work of brilliant criticism.
Owen Chadwick, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History and Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge University, 1956-83, is the author of many important works of church history including A History of Christianity and A History of the Popes.