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By Philip Maurice Davis

The unique and creative portrait of Dr Johnson--the guy and the writer--gets at the back of his public face and uncovers the human fight out of which Johnson's ethical view of existence emerged. the writer offers a tough examining of the Rambler essays and Rasselas, unveiling the presence in those works of Johnson's internal lifestyles. Convincing and persuasive, it's an strategy which flies within the face of proven severe models and preconceptions and which unearths Johnson in a very new mild.

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Extra resources for In Mind of Johnson: A Study of Johnson the Rambler

Sample text

No wonder the only thing that Johnson, the writer of sanity, feared more than hypocrisy was madness. He had to write himself into expecting contradictions, accepting them, even, as normal. Indeed, no writer is less anxious about his anxieties, more undisturbed by his own disturbances, more unsurprised by his own contradictions, than Johnson - even while still feeling them all so powerfully. If Johnson discoursed like an angel, then, it was more like a chastened fallen angel than like Doris Lessing's Korathy.

The more general, the more sympathetic. The price he paid for this generality was to leave the particularities, of which his words so often remind us and are meant to, for the most part in silence-for others, his biographers and followers, to pick up and save from redundancy. The paradox is that we need the particulars to see all that is at stake in Johnson's brief but bulgingly compressed essays; yet Johnson himself needed to repress those particulars and compress them in order to write the essays in the first place.

Yet on the other hand Johnson's position as outsider is essentially metaphorical, a translation through the act of writing. And it is meant to be decoded as such, for the tacit recognition of it is shared through The Life of the Author and his Writings 29 the very word 'we' in the passage, an insider's word left behind as a clue and an admission. Johnson knew the dangers of his own pride. To insidious moral danger, he saw, literary people may not be more immune than others but in fact, just for thinking themselves more exempt, more liable.

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