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History: E211_Boswell

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- James Boswell Questions for E211 British Literature to 1760, Fall 201, Instructor Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D. at California State University, Fullerton
+ James Boswell Questions for E211 British Literature to 1760, Spring 2015, Instructor Alfred J. Drake, Ph.D. at California State University, Fullerton


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- Assigned: <i>The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.</i> (2781-2810).
+ Assigned: <i>The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.</i> (Norton Vol. F, 2962-92).


From The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.


- 1. From 2781-82 ("Plan of the <i>Life</i>), how does Boswell describe and justify his biographical project?
+ 1. From 2962-63 ("Plan of the <i>Life</i>), how does Boswell describe and justify his biographical project?

- 2. From 2782-85 ("Johnson's Early Years, Marriage and London"), Boswell writes about Johnson's years at Oxford and his marriage to the older, widowed Mrs. Porter. How does Boswell use his own insider's perspective to give us a fuller, more accurate understanding of his friend's personality?
+ 2. From 2963-69 ("Johnson's Early Years, Marriage and London"), Boswell writes about Johnson's years at Oxford and his marriage to the older, widowed Mrs. Porter. How does Boswell use his own insider's perspective to give us a fuller, more accurate understanding of his friend's personality?

- 3. From 2786-90 ("Johnson's Early Years, Marriage and London"; "The Letter to Chesterfield"), Boswell recounts Johnson's friendship with the rakish poet Richard Savage and his dealings with the insidious Lord Chesterfield. What "Johnsonian" virtues do Boswell's anecdotes and remembrances bring to light? What does Johnson seem to value most in his friends and acquaintances?
+ 3. From 2963-72 ("Johnson's Early Years, Marriage and London"; "The Letter to Chesterfield"), Boswell recounts Johnson's friendship with the rakish poet Richard Savage and his dealings with the insidious Lord Chesterfield. What "Johnsonian" virtues do Boswell's anecdotes and remembrances bring to light? What does Johnson seem to value most in his friends and acquaintances?

- 4. From 279-97 ("A Memorable Year"; "Goldsmith, Sundry Opinions, Johnson Meets His King"), Boswell tells us about his own first meeting with Johnson, passes along some of his friend's wit, and recounts Johnson's meeting with King George III. Why do you suppose Johnson treated Boswell so gruffly at their first meeting? What most aptly characterizes Johnson's "wit" and his tact with respect to the King?
+ 4. From 2972-79 ("A Memorable Year"; "Goldsmith, Sundry Opinions, Johnson Meets His King"), Boswell tells us about his own first meeting with Johnson, passes along some of his friend's wit, and recounts Johnson's meeting with King George III. Why do you suppose Johnson treated Boswell so gruffly at their first meeting? What most aptly characterizes Johnson's "wit" and his tact with respect to the King?

- 5. Regarding 2797 ("Fear of Death"), read the concluding verse paragraph (lines 343-68) of Johnson's poem "The Vanity of Human Wishes" (pg. 2674) and compare that poetic advice to his personal, private remarks to Boswell concerning death. Is there a contradiction here, or can the two attitudes be reconciled?
+ 5. Regarding 2979 ("Fear of Death"), read the concluding verse paragraph (lines 343-68) of Johnson's poem "The Vanity of Human Wishes" (pg. 2674) and compare that poetic advice to his personal, private remarks to Boswell concerning death. Is there a contradiction here, or can the two attitudes be reconciled?

- 6. From 2797-2804 ("Ossian. Talking for Victory"; "Dinner with Wilkes"), we hear from Boswell how Johnson's bluntness and firm social and political views could generate friction at times. How does Boswell use his knowledge of his friend's cast of mind to get him to dine with the notorious radical John Wilkes? Why does the dinner turn out successful?
+ 6. From 2979-87 ("Ossian. Talking for Victory"; "Dinner with Wilkes"), we hear from Boswell how Johnson's bluntness and firm social and political views could generate friction at times. How does Boswell use his knowledge of his friend's cast of mind to get him to dine with the notorious radical John Wilkes? Why does the dinner turn out successful?

- 7. From 2805-06 ("A Bottom of Good Sense. Bet Flint. Clear Your Mind of Cant"), Boswell provides an instance of Johnson's ongoing "war on cant." What exactly is cant, in Johnson's view? Why does he condemn Boswell's statements about "public affairs"? What is Johnson arguing here -- that people should be blunt to the point of rudeness? Or is there some other point to his remarks?
+ 7. From 2987-88 ("A Bottom of Good Sense. Bet Flint. Clear Your Mind of Cant"), Boswell provides an instance of Johnson's ongoing "war on cant." What exactly is cant, in Johnson's view? Why does he condemn Boswell's statements about "public affairs"? What is Johnson arguing here -- that people should be blunt to the point of rudeness? Or is there some other point to his remarks?

- 8. From 2806-10 ("Johnson Prepares for Death"; "Johnson Faces Death"), Boswell describes Johnson's last illness (a paralytic stroke) and his preparation for death. How does Johnson's conduct offer a pattern for others to emulate in terminal illness?
+ 8. From 2988-92 ("Johnson Prepares for Death"; "Johnson Faces Death"), Boswell describes Johnson's last illness (a paralytic stroke) and his preparation for death. How does Johnson's conduct offer a pattern for others to emulate in terminal illness?


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- <b>Edition.</b> Greenblatt, Stephen et al., eds. <i>The Norton Anthology of English Literature.</i> 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2006. Package 1 (Vols. ABC) ISBN -393-92833-0.
+ <b>Edition:</b> Greenblatt, Stephen and Carol T. Christ. <i>The Norton Anthology of English Literature,</i> 9th. edition. Package 1: Vols. A, B, C. Paperback. Norton: 2012. ISBN-13: 978-393913002.




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