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Designing the Life of Johnson : The Lyell Lectures in Bibliography, 2001-2 - Bruce Redford

Designing the Life of Johnson

The Lyell Lectures in Bibliography, 2001-2

Hardcover Published: 1st June 2002
ISBN: 9780198187394
Number Of Pages: 198

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For over two centuries Boswell's massive biography of Samuel Johnson has been both reverenced and reviled. Yet neither its admirers nor its critics have fully understood how the book was designed to work upon them. Boswell himself is partly to blame: throughout the Life he directs attention away from artistry to industry, from creative choices to dedicated researches. Yet his working manuscript, one of the twentieth century's greatest literary discoveries, tells a much different tale. Designing the Life of Johnson, the first study of its kind, reconstructs Boswell's models and methods by charting this textual labyrinth. It begins by analysing the stages that led to the first edition, goes on to reveal the impact of portrait and theatre-piece upon the structure of the Life, and ends by uncovering the transformation of Johnson from savage into sage. The result is a more subtle, more vital assessment of Boswell the designer - and an enhanced awareness of biography's power to make life into art.

Redford's study will enable scholars and critics to see this complex great work in its subtle particularities as never before... This is a delicate, precise, yet bold and daring book. Studies in English Literature; Designing the Life of Johnson" set outs to be quietly revolutionary in demonstrating that the biographer is an 'artist', not merely a 'craftsman', and that the 'literary form in factual narrative' deployed by Boswell entitles him to be regarded as a 'bold, imaginative, and scrupulous artist'. It certainly succeeds in that aim, and in the process becomes a work of critical art in its own right, raising bibliographical scholarship to new heights of formal elegance and textual insight. Essays in Criticism; Bruce Redford's Lyell Lectures are a splendid work, now setting Boswell's Life of Johnson on the very highest grounds of artistic biography. Royal Stuart Review; Designing the Life of Johnson is an impressive achievement. The availability of the entire working manuscript, and the author's skill in using this manuscript to describe Boswell's complex procedures, make the book the most useful overall study of the Life yet available. Biography; ... an invaluable and comprehensive overview of Boswell's biographical procedures and practices. Biography; A winning combination of scholarly strength and subtlety of insight which will make these gracefully written lectures a fitting companion to Redford's edition of the manuscript, and also the inescapable point of departure for anyone who wishes to understand how it was that Boswell designed The Life of Johnson. Review of English Studies;; Elegant and subtle study ... The completeness of the scholarly equipment which Redford brings to his task is particularly impressive. Notwithstanding the daunting complexity of the manuscripts on which the study is based, the reader never feels less than completely secure as Redford guides us through their luxuriant detail, and makes that detail speak. Review of English Studies; Redford is always in absolute control of his material: his readings and interpretations are perceptive and incisive, never strained or forced. The result is a wholly persuasive account of the "textual labyrinth" out of which Boswell created his masterpiece. H. R. Woudhuysen, Times Literary Supplement; Nobody interested in the supposed contests between ... Boswell's Johnson and Johnson's Johnson, or more generally between biography as history and as poetry, will wish to ignore Bruce Redford's elegant and powerful book. H. R. Woudhuysen, Times Literary Supplement

Cue Titles and Textual Note Introduction 1: Imprinting Johnson 2: Representing Johnson 3: Dramatizing Johnson 4: Transmitting Johnson 5: Taming Johnson Select Bibliography Index

ISBN: 9780198187394
ISBN-10: 0198187394
Series: Lyell Lectures in Bibliography
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 198
Published: 1st June 2002
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.3 x 14.4  x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.38