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.

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Entry filed under: Dr. Samuel Johnson, writing.

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T. Anderson Painter

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

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