By Jeffrey Meyers
(Basic Books, Hardcover, 9780465045716, 552pp.)
Publication Date: December 2008
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Just in time for the 300th anniversary of his birth, an authoritative new biography of the man who created the English language.
Jeffrey Meyers holds a Ph.D. in English literature. He has written over twenty books, and is a frequent contributor to the New Criterion, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Times Higher Education Supplement. He lives in Kensington, California.
“Entertaining, perceptive and well-written.”
The New Yorker
“Meyers, to his credit, tries to look frankly at the evidence about [Johnson’s and Hester Thrale’s] peculiar erotic relation. The result is to make Johnson even more of a personality, and less of a pedant; he emerges as a man of passion and pain, given and taken, a professor of desire.”
“[An] informed, sprightly read…[that] increase[s] our knowledge by presenting a more sexual and tormented Johnson than we’ve known.”
Los Angeles Times
“This is one of those rare works that does equal justice to the standards of the academy and to an intelligent reader’s desire to be both edified and entertainingly engaged…. [An] exemplary biography…[that] does full justice to the ever-remarkable Samuel Johnson.”
“If you know Johnson’s work and want to see it in context, turn first to Meyers.”
Dallas Morning News
“Accessible... [and] at home amid the chaos of Johnson’s daily life.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“[A] vivid account of a man who fit the cliché of being larger than life.”
“With Meyers [as our guide]… we’re above the hubbub and we see more comprehensively and objectively…. In the end, Meyers captures Johnson’s ‘powerful intellect,’ but his torment, too.”
“[T]hose less familiar with Johnson will enjoy this approachable book.”
“Read…Jeffrey Meyers for the splendid manner in which he places Johnson in the context of 18th-century England – not to mention for the latest dose of good old 18th-century pathology.”
The Weekly Standard
“Meyers has written an engaging book. Thoroughly in command of his sources, he writes with brisk efficiency and has genuinely new things to say about the life and work.”