Here, in this unusual collection, are some of the greatest essays in Western literature. Witty, informative and imaginative, the topics vary from starvation in Ireland, fine China, the extension of railways in the Lake District, and the tombs in Westminster Abbey. A little like after-dinner monologues, they are passing thoughts expressed as journalism. Neville Jason reads with urbane clarity.
"Place yourself in an 18th century brain"
In 1773, 63-year-old literary giant Samuel Johnson joined James Boswell, a 32-year-old Scottish lawyer, on an historic horseback expedition across the Scottish Highlands to the Western Islands. The unlikely duo's travelogue records their fascinating conversations and encounters with great wit and incredible detail. Johnson, one of the 18th century's most celebrated writers, provided an elegant and stately account of everything from Loch Ness's medicinal waters to Scotland's puzzling lack of trees.
"Tasty, but abridged"
Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the "happy valley" in order to make their "choice of life". By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment.
How far would you go for someone you love...on a unicycle? Brothers and sisters often dare each other to do things – it's what siblings do. However, when Connie Johnson dared her brother, Samuel, to embark on a one-wheeled odyssey around Australia, she knew it was a big ask. But Connie knew exactly what she was doing and was sure he wouldn't say no. Not this time. Born a year apart, Connie and Samuel Johnson have always been close.
"Love Love Love Your Sister"
This is an essay from the Favorite Essays collection.
"Master of the English Language"
A literary giant of the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson made lasting contributions to English literature as an essayist, moralist, poet, biographer, literary critic and editor. His philosophical novella Rasselas became so popular that it was translated into five languages. A new English edition was published every year and even today there are multiple print editions available.
The subject and argument of the poem are clear from the title. However, unlike Juvenal, Johnson espoused the view that Christian values are an essential aspect of a life well lived. While Johnson passes harsh judgement on the foolishness of greed and social pretensions, his scorn is much tempered by that natural compassion that has made him one of the most lovable figures in English literature.
Dr. Johnson was the great wit of his age and all ages. He is as widely quoted today as in his time. He had the most pity and appropriate comments of any man of any age. All contained herein.