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by David Nokes
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Historical
  • Author:
    David Nokes
  • ISBN:
    080508651X
  • ISBN13:
    978-0805086515
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Pages:
    448 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Historical
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1861 kb
  • ePUB format
    1519 kb
  • DJVU format
    1583 kb
  • Rating:
    4.6
  • Votes:
    552
  • Formats:
    mobi doc mobi lit


Samuel Johnson: A Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 27, 2009.

Samuel Johnson: A Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 27, 2009. by. David Nokes (Author). Find all the books, read about the author, and more. Are you an author? Learn about Author Central. Difficult as it may be to write an uninspiring biography of Samuel Johnson, David Nokes has almost succeeded in this book, which is redeemed more by the occasional flashes of Johnson's own wit than by any great felicity of style on the part of the biographer. Even Harold Bloom, in praising Nokes' book, could find no more flattering adjective than "workmanlike" to describe Nokes' writing.

David Nokes goes for the second choice while not, of course, falling into the adjacent trap of seeing Boswell as a mere buffoon (this story has been told so many times that there are several well-worn grooves along which it could run like clockwork)

David Nokes goes for the second choice while not, of course, falling into the adjacent trap of seeing Boswell as a mere buffoon (this story has been told so many times that there are several well-worn grooves along which it could run like clockwork). Most importantly, he goes back to both the manuscript and printed sources, subjecting them to the closest readings. Johnson was a famously slapdash writer, routinely sending off his first drafts as the finished thing, which means that Nokes has rich pickings when it comes to tell-tale slips and confusions.

David Nokes looks beyond Johnson's remarkable public persona and beyond the Johnson that Boswell to some extent created

David Nokes looks beyond Johnson's remarkable public persona and beyond the Johnson that Boswell to some extent created. Nokes looks at his troubled relationship with his first wife, whom he married for money but felt guilty about for the rest of his life; at his family, who haunted his dreams for years; and at his difficult, intimate relationship with Mrs Thrale.

Nokes's scrupulous insistence on steering Sam clear of the fog of legend has a downside. Important figures as David Garrick – pupil, friend and future stage superstar – appear abruptly, trailing no clouds of glory but not much explanation either

Nokes's scrupulous insistence on steering Sam clear of the fog of legend has a downside. Important figures as David Garrick – pupil, friend and future stage superstar – appear abruptly, trailing no clouds of glory but not much explanation either. Averse to contextual clutter, Nokes has a habit of using phrases such as "rabid anti-government Whiggery" before he bothers to spell out what they mean. Admirably keen on drama, colour and well-quoted dialogue, he drops us in the thick of the action, and leaves us to piece together a back-story.

By that standard Samuel Johnson, a workmanlike book by the British scholar David Nokes, joins itself to an admirable sequence that includes studies by Robert DeMaria, Walter Jackson Bate, Lawrence Lipking and Peter Martin

By that standard Samuel Johnson, a workmanlike book by the British scholar David Nokes, joins itself to an admirable sequence that includes studies by Robert DeMaria, Walter Jackson Bate, Lawrence Lipking and Peter Martin. Each of these brought a particular warmth and individual insight to the reception of Johnson, and Nokes complements them by his sense of the critic as a Londoner, almost the archetypal citizen of that endless city. Continue reading the main story.

David Nokes looks beyond Johnson's remarkable public persona and .

David Nokes looks beyond Johnson's remarkable public persona and beyond the Johnson that Boswell to some extent created. Insightful and engaging, "Samuel Johnson" draws an illuminating portrait of Johnson, his life and world.

David Nokes FRSL (March 11, 1948 - November 19, 2009) was a scholar of 18th-century English literature known for his biographies of Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Jane Austen and Samuel Johnson. He also penned screenplays, including a BBC adaptation of Samuel Richardson's novel Clarissa (1991) and an adaptation of Anne Brontë's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1996).

Samuel Johnson: A Life. Published by Faber & Faber

Samuel Johnson: A Life. Published by Faber & Faber. Why, sir, that may be true in cases where learning cannot possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning, as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors. He then called to the boy, ‘What would you give, my lad, to know about the Argonauts?’ ‘Sir (said the boy), I would give what I have. Johnson was much pleased with his answer, and we gave him a double fare.

Lipking, . Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author (Cambridge, Mass. Damrosch, Leopold, Jr, ‘The Life of Johnson: An Anti-Theory’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 6 (1973), 486-505. and London: Harvard University Press, 1998). Buchanan, David, The Treasure of Auchinleck: The Story of the Boswell Papers (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1974). Burke, John . Jr, ‘Talk, Dialogue, Conversation, and Other Kinds of Speech Acts in Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson’, in Kevin L. Cope, e. Compendious Conversations: The Method of Dialogue in the Early Enlightenment (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1992).

A modern biography of Samuel Johnson that will serve as the definitive work on the legendary British man of letters

In this groundbreaking portrait of Samuel Johnson, David Nokes positions the great thinker in his rightful place as an active force in the Enlightenment, not a mere recorder or performer, and demonstrates how his interaction with life impacted his work. This is the story of how Johnson struggled to define the English language, why he embarked upon such foolhardiness, and where he found the courage to do so. Moving beyond James Boswell’s seminal narrative about the life of the preeminent eighteenth-century novelist, literary critic, biographer, editor, essayist, and lexicographer, this biography addresses his life and action through the hitherto unexplored perspectives of such major players as Johnson’s wife, Tetty; Hester Thrale, in whose household he resided for seventeen years while working on his annotated Shakespeare; and Frances Barber, the black manservant who in many ways was like a son to Johnson. An in-depth interrogation of the primary sources, particularly the letters, offer surprising insight into Johnson’s formative experiences. At last, here’s a reading of the great man that will reveal the rightful glory of an enduring work and an incomparable scholar.


Qag
I bought this book after reading a lavish review of this book by Harold Bloom (titled: The Critic's Critic) in
the NY Times Book Review (Nov.8, 2009). I was disappointed with the early sections of the book, not just because of
my large expectations. In fact until it reaches a stage in Johnson's life when he becomes free from his nagging
poverty I found the book uninteresting. Following Johnson's literary success aand recognition after the publication
of the English language dictionary, the book picks up some momentum and becomes more interesting.

I thought there was far too much attention given to Johnson's deep relations with Mrs. Thrale. Far too little is
said about his servant Frank Barber to whom Johnson must have felt a special bond, having bequethed Barber most
of his wealth. One is left to wonder why so little is said about the latter relationship. Could it be because
not much material in terms of correspondence is available to shed light on this relationship? It should be observed that
the author Nokes relies heavily on correspondence (with very extensive quotes) for much of the book.

A positive feature of the book is the language partially helped by Johnson's own writings. Throughout the book I
could sense that the author is a gifted writer of the English language.
LivingCross
It is to civilization's benefit that biographies of Samuel Johnson abound, especially in and near the 300th anniversary year of his birth.

David Nokes provides his version of the life in a straightforward text drawn mainly from the letters and other published material of the era related directly to Dr. Johnson. However, there is little help here for the common reader describing the times in which he lived. And, Professor Nokes is one who values the importance of Hester Thrale, far above that of James Boswell, to Doctor Johnson's actual life. (While the Professor is most likely correct on this point, I would much rather have spent an evening or two bending an elbow in London with Boswell than with Thrale.)

This is a good, competent biography; but I would first recommend to interested readers last year's effort by Jeffrey Meyers over the one reviewed here. And I would even more highly recommend "Selected Writings of Samuel Johnson" as edited by Peter Martin. Lastly, please read Boswell's famous work if this book lies unread in your library. (If not in your library, buy it.)
Ueledavi
Difficult as it may be to write an uninspiring biography of Samuel Johnson, David Nokes has almost succeeded in this book, which is redeemed more by the occasional flashes of Johnson's own wit than by any great felicity of style on the part of the biographer. Even Harold Bloom, in praising Nokes' book, could find no more flattering adjective than "workmanlike" to describe Nokes' writing. One of the great pleasures of reading about a man like Johnson is to become immersed in the great man's overwhelming personality, wit, conversation, and aphorisms. Unfortunately, Nokes's biography doesn't come up to such a standard.

What the reader does get, in reading Nokes, is a workmanlike (there's that word again) account of the progression of Johnson's life; Nokes builds the structure by piling up detail and incident, with some but not a lot of generalizing and interpretation. There's nothing wrong with that approach in general, but in this particular case I found the result a bit too uninspiring to give it a strong recommendation.