Monday 28 August 2017

A Shorter Boswell

Here's a nice little book I picked up for almost nothing today at our local 'environmental fair', an annual event on which the wizened hippies of South London and beyond descend to savour the convivial Green vibe, the live music and the queue for the beer tent. For myself, my main objective was to buy some of the excellent local honey and a few other odds and ends - and to scan the book stalls. The above volume was my reward - A Shorter Boswell, edited with an introduction by John Bailey [not to be confused with the much later John Bayley], author of Dr Johnson and His Circle. Published by Nelson in 1925, A Shorter Boswell was in its 25th printing by the time of my copy (I'd guess late Fifties or early Sixties), so clearly a successful book, one of Nelson's The Teaching of English series. I guess it's a survival from the days when Boswell's Johnson was routinely taught in schools - as it wasn't even in my schooldays, more's the pity.
 Anyway, this little book contains nearly 200 choice passages from the great biography of the equally great man, and it seems to me perfectly adapted to settle in on my bedside bookshelf.

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