The Life of Samuel Johnson

A contextual interpretation and analysis of “The Life of Samuel Johnson” by James Boswell.

The paper shows that while Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson is somewhat jaded by personal benevolence, Boswell was more in tune with Johnson’s flaws than, for example, his own. It shows that between his self-praise and esteem for Johnson, James Boswell manages to provide the reader with instances that truly reveal a complete portrait of the great writer and give a glimpse into the wit, intellect and wisdom of Samuel Johnson.
“The selection from “The Life of Samuel Johnson” by James Boswell must be interpreted contextually as it is relayed from the perspective of Boswell who clearly throughout the piece voices obvious bias in favor of his subject. Boswell’s own arrogance is another glass through which the biography is conveyed and a significant portion of the text is devoted to that. However, there are certain instances, particularly in the quotes he records, where Boswell seems to truly capture the essence of Johnson’s personality. Samuel Johnson is described as a somewhat liberal Christian who, although he holds high regard for the knowledge of the Ancients, lives his life in a style more befitting the Moderns of the day.”