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by Mr. Peter Martin,Peter Martin
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History & Criticism
  • Author:
    Mr. Peter Martin,Peter Martin
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  • Publisher:
    Yale University Press (March 1, 2002)
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    636 pages
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    History & Criticism
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Peter Martin (born 1940) is an American scholar of English literature. He has been a professor at Miami University, the College of William & Mary, and Principia College.

Peter Martin (born 1940) is an American scholar of English literature. For several years, he was a historian for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He has written several books on historical and biographical topics, including Samuel Johnson: A Biography and A Life of James Boswell.

A life of James Boswell. by. Martin, Peter, 1940-. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Boswell, James, 1740-1795, Authors, Scottish, Biographers. New Haven : Yale University Press. Internet Archive Books. Uploaded by Lotu Tii on July 28, 2015. SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata).

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A Life of James Boswell book.

James Boswell (1740-1795), author of The Life of Samuel Johnson, remains one of the more celebrated biographers in modern literary history. Martin writes well on Boswell and Johnson. Both biographies make for excellent reading. It was awash with ridiculous literals. In his monumental A Life of James Boswell, Peter Martin takes on the formidable task of writing the biographer's biography-of telling the story of a man whose numerous journals are renowned for their vivid evocation of his life and times.

In this moving biography, Peter Martin assesses Boswell's literary achievements and uncovers the pulsating and dynamic world he thrived in, from the royal courts and the drawing rooms of fashionable ladies and gentlemen to the fleshpots of London's unsavoury underworld.

In this moving biography, Peter Martin assesses Boswell's literary achievements and uncovers the pulsating and dynamic world he thrived in, from the royal courts and the drawing rooms of fashionable ladies and gentlemen to the fleshpots of London's unsavoury underworld and the chambers of the insane. He also poignantly reveals a man in agony, easily misunderstood, relentlessly plagued by hypochondria or melancholia, buffeted like a straw in the wind by a multitude of anxieties and 'horrible imaginings'.

About Mr. Peter Martin. Martin is a former member of the overseas staff of the British Council and served as cultural counselor at the British Embassy in Tokyo. Published January 1, 1999 by WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON.

Boswells Life of Johnson. Page 284 - Mr. Ireland's Vindication of his Conduct, Respecting the Publication of the Supposed Shakspeare MSS. Being a Preface or Introduction to a Reply to the Critical Labors of Mr. Malone, in His "Enquiry into the Authenticity of Certain Papers, &c. Characters of Fitzrovia Mike Pentelow,Marsha Rowe Snippet view - 2001.

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Электронная книга "A Dog Called Perth: The True Story of a Beagle", Peter Martin. Эту книгу можно прочитать в Google Play Книгах на компьютере, а также на устройствах Android и iOS. Выделяйте текст, добавляйте закладки и делайте заметки, скачав книгу "A Dog Called Perth: The True Story of a Beagle" для чтения в офлайн-режиме.

This moving biography reassesses James Boswell's achievements and uncovers the breadth of his world. Peter Martin dispels the notion that Boswell's masterly Life of Johnson was an accidental work of genius, and shows that Boswell was a writer of the highest order and a complex, troubled, but ultimately appealing man.

This is an ample and competent biography of the man who gave us what is termed our first "modern" biography. But, in the end, I think Boswell's biography of Johnson and his other writings (The famous Boswell papers etc) actually reveal more about the man than any biography of Boswell himself I've run across. Martin's accounts of Boswell's seemingly pathological obsession with sex and death make interesting reading, as accounts of sex and death generally do; but couldn't we have more reflection from the biographer here on these matters, a bit more involvement with the subject than the encomia noted by another reviewer? Boswell's ghost is still searching for a biographer as good as he.
Literary biographies tend to disappoint me and often leave me feeling as if I and the subject of the biography have been buried in details, but this one is utterly readable and brings the irrepressible and obviously very irritating Boswell alive. The book is beautifully printed as well. It was a very great pleasure to read- and Boswell does deserve attention having himself written one of the best books in English.
Dr. Martin writes with unabashed affection about his subject, making for lively, energetic reading. This book pours life into a literary figure who, in less caring hands, could have been made out to be dead dull.
If you are a literate person, then the name of Boswell has some degree of familiarity for you. For almost everyone else (who has not read the book I am reviewing) the only association was that Boswell was Samuel Johnson's biographer and faithful friend. Even if the reader had not gone beyond the link to Johnson, which of course was true, one had chanced upon a most curious and important person from the 18'th century. Having read the biography I am so much more impressed with the life that the irrepressible James Boswell lived.

He shared many psychological imperfections, tendencies and real manifestations with his great hero, Johnson. While they both suffered from depression, Boswell also endured even greater magnitudes of hypochondria. In his case both mental states could lay him so low that he ceased to be able to function and on the worst of the occasions, he was unable to get out of bed for days on end. Both men loved to drink but Johnson knew where his drinking would take him and he firmly grabbed hold of those wild horses and put them in the stable and locked the door. Boswell went in the other direction, giving in to greater bouts of intoxication. I am pretty sure that this life of abusive drinking probably shortened his life span by many years.

Both men were endowed with strong physical lusts but again in the case of Johnson, he channeled his deeply religious and guilt-ridden sensibility into sexual self control. Like most of the clouds that hung over his life, it is seen that he never was able to be comfortable in his own skin and was constantly at work tormenting himself with fearful ideas about an after life of endless punishments, presumably the worst of which would be doled out for sexual misconduct or failures to show proper respect to his parents. This was Johnson. Boswell was never one to take religious piety in hand and once in hand to stab himself with pangs of certainty, of the punishments after death. However, where he lacked Johnson's certainty about his moral maps and compasses, Boswell more than made up for in his unquenchable thirst for insights into metaphysical ideas. He was both repulsed, fascinated and drawn to atheistic philosophers, hearing them out and being frightened at their logical assertions about God and the role of humans in society. Johnson would turn to God and prayer when the dark nights of his soul passed by; Boswell turned to ask more and more questions and when firmly frightened, hit the prostitutes and the bottle. Oh, and there was also his really creepy fascination for watching public hangings, which he watched many times. Was he concerned that maybe he'd end up on the stand?

Boswell had a sexual drive that would suffice for at least a dozen normal males. He also never quite made it to full adult sexual consciousness. What I mean is that he refused to accept the consequences of giving vent to any and all sexual fantasies even when he knew full well that it was probably going to end badly. And end badly it did, over and over and over again. He contracted gonorrhoea at least 18 times! He fathered illegitimate children. He could not stop himself or would not stop himself from physically and sexually interacting with just about any woman who caught his fancy. And the recourse to prostitutes is shocking to read about; that dark colour streaks across the Boswell canvas from the age of about 19 till his dying days.

Boswell's childish habit of telling all his dirty behaviour to his prime female figure, his wife, seeing her explode with outrage, hatred, revulsion and betrayal and then waiting for and getting her forgiveness, each and every time - this tarnishes his image in our minds and shocks. Simply put, he would leave his note books about the house for his wife to read and read she would, about who he slept with last, and how he contracted yet another venereal disease. It became a type of demented ritual with him. And strange enough, he didn't change and his wife continued to forgive and put up with his antics. These are parts of Bossie's dark side, a very substantial dark side. But, there were other sides to his nature.

Boswell was possessed of a preternatural self assurance that was far in advance from and not sourced from his young years; when he landed in Holland to study law, he was a young man but his assurance, even if an act, impressed just about everyone. Well, not quite everyone. There were those whose eyes were open and wise enough to know a silly and ridiculous person when they saw one. Boswell's great strength was to be able to laugh along with those who laughed at him, even if they did so with derision and disdain. His psychic roots needed attention and even if it came to him in a negative tone, it was attention nonetheless.

It is obvious that when Boswell agreed to go to learn law in Holland, it was as a sop to his overly stern but very practical father. Creeping upwards in Boswell's mind was the opportunity to become a rake and whore his way through Europe with the eventual fleshpot of Italy as his destination. And that's pretty much what he accomplished, much to his fathers anguish and rage. Along the way in Europe he managed to meet many very important personalities of the era including Jean Jacque Rousseau and Voltaire. His Corsica journey reads like the plot of a zany novel except that he wrote the plot and acted out the drama. It is both hilarious to read and descriptive of the lengths that he would take to create an interesting life.

Always present in James Boswell's mind was that part of life that he loathed, the work that his father excelled at. He hated the drudgery of law and formality and the back slapping and banter of other lawyers. If you recall the incredibly funny moment in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", where an effeminate son of a castle owning baron is being berated by his father, telling him how many times he built the castle and how often it sunk into the swamp, and that one day it would all be his. To which his son says "....but father, I want to sing!" That is Boswell in a nutshell. He wanted to do anything to distance himself from his fathers way of life. And yet, therein lies the troublesome core of James real needs: he wanted to be accepted and loved by his father for who he was, not for who his father insisted he become. And, rail against this as much as he did, he ended up becoming the successful barrister that his father had tried to fashion him into and against which James writhed in agony.

Eventually James would marry and raise a family. Peter Martin makes the case pretty clear that the dipoles in Boswell's life turned into Scotland, his life as a barrister, Laird, father and husband on one side and London, with his beloved Johnson and a growing batch of literary, artistic and political bright lights on the other. He was one of the most devoted and productive note takers, journal keepers and snapshot describers in the whole of the 18'th century. His writing was initially not as well appreciated as they have become. His magnum opus, the massive biography of Johnson, became a huge best seller and ran into dozens of editions in that century, most of which came out after Boswell's death. So much of the colours and textures of Johnson as a person come from the "Life" and only add to the massive body of written work that Johnson left posterity. I actually cannot think of another man from that time period who wrote more than he did.

Peter Martin draws on Boswell's journals, which showed up quite unexpectedly in several places early in the 20'th century. There is much in this book that is very funny to read. Boswell could make friends as well as enemies and those came about usually because of ill considered or ill timed comments that a more mature mind would have shared with the closest of circles with the understanding that the words didn't leave the room. Not for Boswell this type of self control. Not for Boswell were the words that came out of his mouth or written in pamphlets, letters or essays to be put through an internal censor. And, silly person that he was, even when his wise friends read what he wanted to publish and they recoiled in horror and warned him to suppress it, he almost always disregarded the advice, threw the words into the world like a well placed grenade and then waited for the explosion and the "attention". That was Boswell. His reckless views ended up coming back to haunt him when he tried with all his might in the last chapters of his life to become a barrister in the English court system, centred in London. It didn't help his cause that he was unable to fully comprehend the English judicial system, something that Peter Martin does not explain.

Boswell's life fell apart in two distinct ruptures. The first being the death of Johnson and the second the death of Boswell's wife. He was never the same after this and his spiral into almost complete dissolution, alcoholism, depression and hypochondria, eventually led to a sudden disease and rapid decline. Boswell was very fortunate to have found a very great friend in Malone who made sure that the "Life" was edited and polished and who helped guide, as best he could, Boswell's children. Since the discovery of the huge trove of Boswellian journal pages and publications of them and critical essays about his work, his reputation as a writer has only increased. As a person, Peter Martin shows us the fullness of Boswell's character and a complicated person was he. But, I think that Martin would have us delve into the journal pages were we to come face to face with Boswell as he really was. Lucky for us that those journals are affordable and in print. Martin's biography is wonderfully written, with love, respect and honour. All the things that Bossie would have craved; they are all in this terrific book.
I think it's healthy for a biographer to love his subject, because a fine biography takes years of effort. But there are many points where I feel as if Martin's love for his subject -- assuming he loves Boswell -- obstructs a properly critical perspective. As someone who loves Johnson's works, I've tried really hard to be open to this biography, but I can't go on. Perhaps others who love Boswell as much as Martin does will have less difficulty than I do. But I cannot. If you DO love Boswell, then take my opinions with a grain of salt.
I have read about 20% of this (I am trying to be honest with you here, so don't ding me...) But some of Martin's descriptions of Boswell are SO effusive, I can't go on. If you read Bate's biography of Johnson, you never doubted his love for Johnson, but you probably felt that Bate was being even-handed. But Martin doesn't strike me this way. Discussing Boswell's "London Journal," Martin writes, "the world has come to see it as a literary masterpiece." Hello? Sure, we all loved to read about the peccadilloes, and enjoyed it, but a 'literary masterpiece'? Like "Hamlet"? "Absalom, Absalom"? "Ulysses"? "The Vanity of Human Wishes"? I am very curious about the world Martin refers to here. The effusiveness continues a couple pages later, when Martin expresses thanks (that's OK) that Boswell didn't suppress himself in the journals, but the tone - - "We must thank the literary muses who watched over him that he did not succeed against his better literary judgement..."
Leading to this stage in London, there are many many pages where Martin works to forgive a tendency in Boswell which I would call flightiness, but Martin attributes to Boswell's artistic tendency and difficulties in conforming to his surroundings. Part of me wants to respond in a way I suspect Johnson would have: get serious. Martin also never seems to weigh in on Boswell's affairs with married women - - should we read Martin's silence as his condoning?
Please forgive me here if I post this review without having read further. But if I can't finish it - - and I have finished a number of 'difficult' books, and some that are poorly written, you disregard this at your own risk.
Martin writes well on Boswell and Johnson. Both biographies make for excellent reading. My only beef was the appalling editing this book enjoyed. It was awash with ridiculous literals.