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Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody

5 November 1992
The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... of friends and acquaintances sufficient to elicit sequences of correspondence. The Johnson of Redford’s Volume I is rather shy and preoccupied, formal in relationships with his new London acquaintance. An impression of sorrow and of a peculiar kind of lethargy makes itself felt. We see at first hand how he promises and promises that he will go to ...

Gentlemen Did Not Dig

Rosemary Hill: 18th-Century Gap Years

24 June 2010
The Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment 
by Jason Kelly.
Yale, 366 pp., £40, January 2010, 978 0 300 15219 7
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... 30 years ago, and their activities have been much discussed and documented since, most recently by Bruce Redford in his study Dilettanti (2008). Kelly’s contribution is to offer considerable and interesting detail about the various journeys, how they went, what was included, and how, in time, the Grecian taste began to spread. He also suggests, less ...

Self-Hugging

Andrew O’Hagan: A Paean to Boswell

5 October 2000
Boswell's Presumptuous Task 
by Adam Sisman.
Hamish Hamilton, 352 pp., £17.99, November 2000, 0 241 13637 7
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’: Research Edition: Vol. II 
edited by Bruce Redford and Elizabeth Goldring.
Edinburgh, 303 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 7486 0606 8
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Samuel Johnson: The Life of an Author 
by Lawrence Lipking.
Harvard, 372 pp., £11.50, March 2000, 0 674 00198 2
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Dr Johnson's London 
by Liza Picard.
Weidenfeld, 362 pp., £20, July 2000, 0 297 84218 8
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... One of the general effects of hero-worship is its tendency to marshal resentment in those who claim themselves no party to the admiration. A good example of this offers itself at the opening of Vanity Fair – ‘A Novel without a Hero’ – when the single-minded Becky Sharp, high in a coach bound for Russell Square, flings a copy of Johnson’s Dictionary out of the window to land on the grass at the feet of her former teacher, a sworn disciple of the Great Lexicographer ...
7 May 1987
Boswell: The English Experiment 1785-1789 
edited by Irma Lustig and Frederick Pottle.
Heinemann, 332 pp., £30, February 1987, 0 434 08130 2
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The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the 18th-Century Familiar Letter 
by Bruce Redford.
Chicago, 252 pp., £21.25, January 1987, 0 226 70678 8
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Printing Technology, Letters and Samuel Johnson 
by Alvin Kernan.
Princeton, 357 pp., £19.70, February 1987, 0 691 06692 2
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... of some earlier volumes, as well as of some other critical discussions (the most recent being Bruce Redford’s), to assimilate Boswell’s personal writings to the art of the novelist or playwright, or to the conventions of formally crafted rhetoric, is here subdued. But the volume shares with the rest of the series a straining to impose a ...

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House

19 February 1998
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... unwholesome adoration in his aptly-titled Underworld, and put it into the caustic mouth of Lenny Bruce, found here delivering a monologue during the Cuban missile crisis: ‘Kennedy makes an appearance in public and you hear people say, I saw his hair! Or, I saw his teeth! The spectacle’s so dazzling they can’t take it all in. I saw his hair! They’re ...

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