Literal Immortality?

Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

I’d been feeling like my reading lately had been a bit lightweight.  (Larry McMurtry and Kim Stanley Robinson probably won’t make it up on here.)  My solution?  The Life of Johnson.  Borges contends that although Johnson’s literary work was outstanding in itself (he wrote a dictionary all by himself), it was the devoted work of his younger, less talented friend Boswell that assured their immortality.  Boswell wrote that his plan for the Life included “not only relating all the most important events of it in their order, but interweaving what he privately wrote, and said, and thought…”  In effect, he wrote down everything he ever heard Johnson say.  “Had his other friends been as diligent and ardent as I was, he might have been almost entirely preserved.”  Later he speaks of biographies in which Johnson himself “has embalmed so many eminent persons”.  Keep up your Twitter and Facebook, your diary and your correspondence; you never know.

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