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Archive for November, 2009

James Boswell, International Man of Mystery

A discussion on C18-L alerted me to a recently published novel called The Brothers Boswell, in which James Boswell’s criminally insane brother John stalks Boswell and Johnson, planning to murder them with a pair of golden pistols. The Washington Post has a review here, and the New York Times has posted the first chapter. Author Philip Baruth talks a bit about writing the novel here.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 21st, 2009 |Comments Off on James Boswell, International Man of Mystery

If you can’t say something nice…

I don’t know much about this little clipping I found in the back of a copy of Mrs. Piozzi’s Anecdotes, but I think it’s safe to say the author was not a fan of Johnson.

Character of Dr. Johnson, Written After His Death

A Bard, whom Apollo had never inspir’d;
A Courtier, who scribbled just as he was hir’d;
A Critic, thro’ caprice and prejudice blind,
And virtuous, because to no vices inclin’d;
An implicit Believer, because he ne’er doubted,
And a Writer, because he could not live without it.
In conduct a Bear, conversation a Clown,
A Friend to no country excepting his own.
An Author inflated with pride and bombast;
A Bigot, in trammels confin’d to the last;
A Dupe to the Church, and a slave to the Priest:
In learning a Pedant, in manners a Beast.

Public Advertiser poem

UPDATE 03/08/10

My thanks to Professor James Woolley of Lafayette College for suggesting that this poem is perhaps an imitation of a 1731 blast aimed at Sir Robert Walpole (questionably attributed to Jonathan Swift).

With favour and fortune fastidiously blest,
He’s loud in his laugh, and he’s coarse in his jest;
Of favour and fortune unmerited, vain,
A sharper in trifles, a dupe in the main;
Achieving of no thing, still promising wonders.
By dint of experience improving in blunders;
Oppressing true merit, exalting the base.
And sell1ng his country to purchase his place;
A jobber of stocks by retailing false news;
A prater at court in the style of the stews ;
Of virtue and worth by profession a giber;
Of juries and senates the bully and briber.
Though I name not the wretch, you all know who I mean—
Tis the cur-dog of Britain, and spaniel of Spain.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 19th, 2009 |Comments Off on If you can’t say something nice…

Mary Hyde’s Wilde side

via the Exlibris email list:

The Collector as Artist: Lady Eccles and Oscar Wilde.

John Stokes

Monday 11 January 2010 at 18.00 at the British Library Conference Centre 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

Taking Lady Eccles’ magnificent donation of material relating to Oscar Wilde and his circle to the British Library as its example, the talk will explore the ways in which the creativity of the collector can, in turn, inspire the imagination of the scholar.

Mary, Viscountess Eccles (1912 – 2003), was one of the foremost collectors of her time, amassing an outstanding wealth of material relating to Wilde which she bequeathed to the British Library. The Eccles Collection of Oscar Wilde comprises almost 2,000 items, including manuscripts (correspondence, works, etc.) printed books (amongst them a number of presentation copies and books from Wilde’s own library) and a wide range of ephemera. This talk celebrates the completion of the cataloguing of the collection which is now available through the Library’s online catalogues.

John Stokes is Emeritus Professor of Modern British Literature in the Department of English at King’s College London. Together with Dr Mark Turner, also of King’s College, he is now editing Wilde’s journalism for the Oxford English Texts edition of the Complete Works.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception.

Attendance is free, but please register your name with Teresa Harrington at the British Library.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 18th, 2009 |Comments Off on Mary Hyde’s Wilde side

Last chance to see

I’ve given several tours of the Hyde Collection exhibition since it opened in August, and HCL News has just done a story about the last of these, accompanied by a picture in which you can see me attempting to point out something without putting smudgy fingerprints on the display case. That’s a good time to remind those of you in the Boston area that the exhibition will be closing here on November 14th. Don’t despair if you can’t make it, however; the new and improved version will open at the Grolier Club in New York on December 9th, with extra things I didn’t have room for here at Houghton.

Published in:John Overholt |on November 5th, 2009 |Comments Off on Last chance to see