A new Samuel Johnson biography goes unreviewed…

5 October 2009 at 18:31 Leave a comment

Kathryn Hughes has written an arrogant, abrasive, self-important, and self-aggrandizing review about David Nokes’s new biography of Samuel Johnson.

She tells me that if I read (and certainly if I liked) Boswell’s life of Johnson then I would think of him as consisting of “an odd assemblage of convulsive tics, roaring voice and bar-room philosophising”.

Wow, what a superficial reading that would be.

And she seems to think Samuel Johnson suffered from nothing more than obsessive-compulsive disorder, when it is generally understood that he suffered from Tourette Syndrome, which was undescribed at the time.

She also says he “managed to get through a long and trying life mostly sober, addicted to nothing stronger than endless cups of tea”, when his prayers and personal notes indicate he felt he went through significant parts of his life drinking too much. And what an odd thing to find praise-worthy…

Interestingly, the Noyes biography (barely an addenda to all this soliloquizing) sounds measured and reasonable.

It’s a surprisingly ignorant review.

Sloppy.  Sounds like she just revised her GCSE exam paper.


Entry filed under: Dr. Samuel Johnson, writing.

Thoughtful Declension of Cookie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

What I’ve been reading:

  • James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. (London, 14 King William Street, Strand: William P. Nimmo, 1876). 4 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 3, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985). 4 years ago
  • Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 4 years ago
  • Stephanie Kallos, Broken for You (New York: Grove Press, 2004). 5 years ago
  • Marsilio Ficino, Letters of Marsilio Ficino, v. 2, trans. Language Dept. School of Economic Science, London (New York: Gingko Press, 1985) 5 years ago

T. Anderson Painter

I am a misanthrope. No one ever believes me, but this seems to prove my point.



2003-2013 T. Anderson Painter
all rights reserved

%d bloggers like this: