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The world in thirty-eight chapters, or, Dr Johnson's guide to life / Henry Hitchings.
Hitchings, Henry, 1974-
London : Macmillan, 2018.
ix, 353 pages ; 23 cm
Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784
Johnson, Samuel, 1709-1784
Samuel Johnson was a critic, an essayist, a poet and a biographer. He was also, famously, the compiler of the first good English dictionary, published in 1755. A polymath and a great conversationalist, his intellectual and social curiosity were boundless. Yet he was a deeply melancholy man, haunted by dark thoughts, sickness and a diseased imagination. In his own life, both public and private, he sought to choose a virtuous and prudent path, negotiating everyday hazards and temptations. His writings and aphorisms illuminate what it means to lead a life of integrity, and his experience, abundantly documented by him and by others (such as James Boswell and Hester Thrale), is a lesson in the art of regulating the mind and the body.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 328-342).
1. An inscription over the door, to show what kind of Book this is -- 2. Of personal oddity: which is no obstacle to personal authority -- 3. The community of pains and pleasures -- our subject's Origins and Upbringing, with some speculations on what we may learn from them -- 4. The description of a young man's disappointment, with some sidelights courtesy of a certain Switzer, Dr. Jung -- 5. A philosophical meditation upon the nature and rewards of Accident, in which are used the strange words 'Galilean serendipity' -- 6. In which Samuel Johnson, being entrusted with a mission of Love, proceeds to execute it; with what success will hereinafter appear -- 7. The mournful truth of London life; or, an author embarks upon the sea of Literature (with but a smattering of wormy cliché) -- 8. In which we observe the peculiarities of Friendship, manifest in Samuel Johnson's association with the notorious Mr. Richard Savage ; 9. A resting place -- where the reader may take refreshment, and where vexed matters are resolved -- 10. Of Genius, with sundry other scenes from the face of life.
11. In which the craft of literary biographer is expounded -- 12. An excursion to the Theatre, with some brief diversions into other arts -- 13. In which we ponder the making of a Dictionary -- with thoughts on the true meaning of lexicography and the particular flavours of its solitude -- 14. A chapter about Grief (for one word must serve where in truth no assemblage of words will be sufficient) -- 15. Containing some essential points of information on the life of reading, whereamong are the most fugacious mention of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu and even Mr. Stephen King -- 16. A chapter that reflects on the uses of Sickness, and of patrons -- 17. An essay, or 'loose sally of the mind', upon the methods of a moralist, in which are considered prose style and its higher functions -- 18. Some further thoughts on the Rambler and the intricacies of ordinary life -- 19. A short musing, upon exemption from oblivion (or what is otherwise called Memory) -- 20. Containing much to exercise the reader's thoughts upon the questions of Fear and Sanity.
21. A chapter one might, in a more facetious spirit, have chosen to label 'Shakespeare matters' -- 22. In which Samuel Johnson idles, to some avail, not least by enquiring into the soul of advertisement and our artificial passions -- 23. Of tea and Abyssinia -- a chapter about Choices, in which we have chosen to include the word 'lumbersome' (a curio you may reasonably think a mistake for 'cumbersome') -- 24. In which the definition of network provides an opportunity to appraise certain marvels of the twenty-first century, not least the inventions of Mr. Mark Zuckerburg -- 25. On the business of a Club -- being not a 'heavy stick; a staff intended for offence' but rather 'an assembly of good fellows' (where the staff may cause offence, without intent) -- 26. A chapter upon Samuel Johnosn's lawyerly inclinations, in which we may wonder at the conduct of Signor Giuseppe Baretti and the philosophy of Dr. George Berkeley -- of whom , we can be sure, only the latter was fit to be a bishop -- 27. In which, at last we attend to the life and loves of Hester Thrale, a foisonous fund of Anecdote -- 28. Some ruminations upon scepticism, amid which appear the names of both Sir Thomas Browne and Scratching Fanny -- 29. A short chapter on politics and public life, wherein the radical John Wilkes does rear his head -- 30. Containing a sketch of Dr. Johnson's visit to the Caledonian regions -- and matters pertinent thereunto.
31. On the fleeting nature of Pleasure and the state of Felicity -- 32. In which thought is applied to an awkward question: whether Dr. Johnson subscribed to the doctrines of S****ism -- 33. Upon Charity -- whether it be cold, and how it is performed -- 34. A chapter about Boredom, which may serve to remind us that there are no truly uninteresting things -- 35. Of Johnson among the Bluestockings -- though it behoves us to remark that he did not refer to them thus, and that we might now be wise to foreswear this somewhat disdainous appellation -- 36. One of our longer chapters, directed with no little incongruity to the matter of life's brevity -- 37. Some thoughts upon the business of Cultural Legislation, which is less atrocious than it sounds -- 38. In which the account of the great Johnson is concluded, with a Farewell to the reader.
World in thirty-eight chapters
Dr Johnson's guide to life
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