big sam


If you survey the geography of modern letters, three books stand out as signposts marking the beginning of paths that lead decisively away from all that went before. Augustine’s “Confessions,” the first memoir of an inner life, is one such work. So is Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote,” which is the first inarguably modern novel. The third is James Boswell’s “The Life of Samuel Johnson,” the earliest recognizable modern biography. In our era, scholarship — particularly that of Edmund Wilson and Donald Greene — has been unsparing with regard to Boswell’s ignorance of some facts about his subject and his deliberate withholding of others. He was, in these critics’ estimation, a myth-maker. Fair enough — and so what?

more from the LA Times here.