The great Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), also known as Dr Johnson, has often been praised for his wit and wisdom (and outspokenness) on all manner of subjects. He wrote only one novel, Rasselas (which he wrote rapidly to pay for his mother’s funeral expenses), and is now better remembered, not as a poet or a critic (though he was praised as both), but as a lexicographer (he composed the first detailed dictionary of the English language) and as a great conversationalist. Here are ten of our favourite utterances from the great Doctor, on a wide variety of topics. Most of these come to us via his trusty biographer, James Boswell (1740-1795), whose Life of Samuel Johnson (1791) is often called one of the great literary biographies.
On life: ‘Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment.’
On reading: ‘A man ought to read just as inclination…
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