1 Introduction
From Samuel Johnson by Sir S. C. Roberts

SAMUEL Johnson was born at Lichfield on 18 September 1709 He died in London on 13 December 1784, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

SAMUEL JOHNSON is more vivid to us in a book written by another man than in any of the books that he wrote himself. Such is the penalty of being the subject of the greatest biography in the language, with the further result that many readers tend to separate Johnson the writer from Johnson the man as displayed by Boswell.

Fundamentally, the distinction is unsound. It was Johnson's writings that first attracted Boswell, and if the reader wishes to recapture the Boswellian aura, he must do as Boswell did and study the works of the man who became known as the Great Moralist and the Great Lexicographer while Boswell was still a schoolboy. This simple chronological reminder is the best critical antidote to the ancient fallacy that Johnson was made by Boswell. Of course, Boswell's ultimate triumph in 'Johnsonizing the land' was supreme. But the old view that 'it was the object of Boswell's life to connect his own name with that of Johnson' contains little more than a dangerous half-truth. Boswell wished his name to be associated with many other famous names besides that of Johnson, and his wish was fulfilled. But among all his schemes for the attainment of literary fame, there remained at the back of his mind the possibility of a magnum opus, and for the subject of his culminating work he chose Johnson. Why? The answer, or the foundation of an answer, can best be found in a contemplation of Johnson's early career and of his position in the world of letters at the time of Boswell's introduction to him in 1763.

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