Samuel Johnson

Walter J Bate

Walter J Bate

Been reading Walter Bate’s biography of the great 18th century figure Samuel Johnson, compiler of the dictionary and general literary wonder. Bate’s is a great, in-depth psychological profile, with some wonderfully descriptive and insightful passages. What strikes this reader about Johnson is how so huge a talent could have such trouble getting to where he got, and how much of his life, even when he became famous, was spent, it seems, fighting off what he thought was insanity, and what at the very least was severe self-doubt and depression, not to mention just plain destitution.

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