The Life of Samuel Johnson, Part 2, by James Boswell

You'll be happy to know I finished the Life of Samuel Johnson without getting into any car accidents. As the book went on, I started liking Johnson more and Boswell less. Johnson's character is at least genuine; Boswell seems like a born flatterer. Boswell spends much time defending Johnson's characters from malignities that I have not read, and another substantial amount of time recounting arguments they conducted and taking the opportunity to explain why his side (for example, that slavery is justified due to its economic value*) is the correct one. Boswell is hindered by blinders; at one point he strongly denies that Johnson has any prejudice against Scots, for example, and later quotes multiple letters wherein Johnson claims all highlanders are liars.

In the end Johnson is a charismatic figure, and the stories of his interactions with certain literati - specifically Hannah More and Fanny Burney - I found more interesting than I had expected, due to personal interest in the time period. I might even like to have it in my library as a reference tome. But I can't recommend this massive work for general consumption.

* What a prat.

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