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Book Details
Long title
Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson


Year of 1st publication
Book description

"Anyone who loves Boswell will find their passion given beautifully articulate expression here". -Phillip Hensher in the Spectator.

Boswell's Presumptuous Task by Adam Sisman received rave reviews when it was first published in 2000, being described as "fabulously entertaining, deft and witty", "excellent", "magnificent", "exhilarating" and "highly accomplished".

Sisman is an accomplished writer and he has done his research very well - and to my great satisfaction, he has cited all of his sources in the footnotes!

What makes this book stand out is, that it is not just another biography, copying the ones written by Pottle and Brady more than 20 years ago. This is an original work about the writing of the Life of Johnson, focusing on a particular aspect of Boswell's life which has never been fully explored before. As such, the book is more a book about a book and a friendship, than it is yet another biography of Boswell. Because of this, and because Sisman's style of writing is really engaging, this book is highly recommended.


Originally published in 2000, a new edition came out in the fall of 2006, containing some revisions and new material.


This book is available at many Internet bookstores and can be had very inexpensively via AbeBooks. Be aware of which edition is on offer, before you order it.