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Book Details
  • Image
    Cover of Boswell on the Grand Tour, Germany and Switzerland, edited by Frederick A. Pottle
Long title
Boswell on the Grand Tour: Germany and Switzerland 1764
Year of 1st publication
Book description

Boswell spent some of the happiest days of his life visiting Berlin and several of the lesser German courts during the summer and fall of 1764. In the words of Frederick Pottle in the introduction to this volume, "travelling in Germany suited Boswell because it allowed him to statisfy two of his strongest appetites alternately and at brief intervals. He loved splendour, show, the elaborate and stately ceremonial of the courts. He loved to deck himself in velvet of five colours and preen himself conspicuously. [...] But there was also a wide earthy streak in his nature that made it positive pleasure to him to ride through the night in a jolting cart, or to sleep in his clothes ten nights running on the floors of inns or in haylofts."

Following his visits to such places as Berlin, Brunswick, Dessau, Leipzig, and Gotha, Boswell continued on to Switzerland, where he met the famous philosophers Rosseau and Voltaire. Rosseau, in particular, came to have some impact on Boswell's life, as he it was he who suggested Boswell to go to Corsica, which he did about 9 months after their meeting.

This first volume of Boswell on the Grand Tour tells the story of all this and more based on Boswell's journal from June 18, 1764 to January 1, 1765, numerous Memorandas and Notes written by Boswell, his Ten-Lines-a-Day verses written between October 1 and November 22, 1764, and upwards of 90 letters sent or received by Boswell during his travels.

Quoting David Hume, George Malcolm Thomson wrote the following in a review of Boswell on the Grand Tour in the Evening Standard:

Wherever he goes, Boswell remains inimitably and preposterously himself; against the moving backcloth of Europe he draws the living self-portrait of one who is 'very agreeable, very good-humoured and very mad'.


This volume was edited by Frederick Pottle and was first published in 1953. As was the case with the two previous volumes, it came in two editions, a standard edition and a deluxe edition printed in just 1000 numbered copies. The standard has 353 numbered pages, not counting the introduction, and includes a few illustrations as well as maps of Germany and Switzerland at the time of Boswell's journey. The deluxe edition is of a better quality and contains more illustrations than the standard edition, but no additional text.

On April 29, 2008, an annotated version of the journal of his Grand Tour through Germany and Switzerland was published as the first volume in the Research Edition: Journals.


The standard edition is always available rather cheaply via AbeBooks. The deluxe edition is also available via Abebooks but usually sells for no less than £45 - and often for more than £75.