2015年2月16日 星期一

Boswell’s Enlightenment;倫敦日誌‧1762—1763 / Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763

"Despite the fact that Boswell wrote one of the world’s greatest biographies, one always feels he’d rather have taken a selfie."
WHEN James Boswell was in Rome, aged 24, and with few accomplishments to his name other than bouts of gonorrhoea and panic attacks about the afterlife, he had his portrait painted by George Willison.

WHEN James Boswell was in Rome, aged 24, and with few accomplishments to his name other than bouts of gonorrhoea and panic attacks about the afterlife, he had his portrait painted by George Willison.

Boswell’s Enlightenment

Robert Zaretsky

Belknap Press, £19.95

It is a curious piece. In it, Boswell is wearing a fur-trimmed coat, reminiscent of the signature dress of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whom he had met six months earlier, and whom he would latterly hustle into making him the unofficial ambassador to Corsica (as well as sleeping with his mistress).

Above Boswell in the portrait is an owl, a traditional symbol of wisdom. At the same time as he met Rousseau, Boswell met his philosophical foe, Voltaire, who in a parable about governance cast the owl as the Machiavellian mastermind. The owl in the portrait has a gothic look about it, appearing threatening rather than serene. After Boswell’s death, another philosopher, Hegel, would write that “the owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk”, meaning that philosophy only understands an era as it is closing.

Oddly enough, in the landscape behind Boswell’s portrait, the sun seems to be setting. Robert Zaretsky’s book may be about Boswell and the Enlightenment, but it cannot wholly ignore the imminent darkling plain. Boswell may be a figure fashioned by the Enlightenment, but in his hysteria and histrionics, his self-dramatisation and self-doubt, he seems more akin to the Romantics than the Age of Reason.

The idea that there is some kind of irreversible threshold between “Romantics” and “the Enlightened” is, of course, bogus. It was the Enlightenment that introduced sensibility and fellow-feeling as key concepts about what makes us human; it was a peculiarly lachrymose generation, given to ostentatious weeping as much as to cerebral rumination. Boswell is the ideal person through whom to explore the ambiguities and contradictions of the Enlightenment. In the opening chapter, Zaretsky foregrounds this, narrating Boswell and his friend Temple as young students, climbing Arthur’s Seat and hollering “Voltaire, Rousseau, Immortal Names!” across the grey North Sea. That they did not grasp the differences between them is part of why Boswell’s biography is so illuminating rather than enlightening.

Through a combination of chutzpah and naivety, Boswell managed to meet most of the major figures of his age: not just Rousseau and Voltaire, but David Hume, Adam Smith, Samuel Johnson (whose biography he would write) and Sir Joshua Reynolds, the portrait painter (whose biography he intended to write). One of the funniest parts of Zaretsky’s book – and, in a way, Boswell appears here like a picaresque hero, bumbling from encounter to encounter, never quite getting what he has been told – is Boswell’s desperation and failure to meet Frederick the Great. The section on his failed seduction of the gloriously named Isabella Agneta Elisabeth van Tuyll van Serooskerken is worth the whole book: she saw through Boswell, and he did not even realise he’d been intellectually and emotionally rumbled.

Part of the cleverness of this work is to describe a Boswell before he became Johnson’s amanuensis and sidekick. His relationship with Pasquale Paoli, the Corsican nationalist, was every bit as significant and sentimental. Boswell believed that Corsican independence was a chance to change political history – I am reminded of Byron’s enthusiasm and innocence over Greece. Corsica could have been the Berlin Wall of the 18th century. It actually happened in Paris and a Corsican, Napoleon, reaped the benefits. The entanglement of reason, heroism, “feeling”, liberation and tyranny could have no more embroiled a knot. If only Boswell had been alive to witness it.

Some of Zaretsky’s broad-brush descriptions are askew. John Knox is denounced as a prim Presbyterian killjoy – but this was a man who saw himself represented on stage, and whose agenda about education and, for want of a better phrase, “social security”, pre-empted Enlightenment thought. That Boswell got goose-pimples over Hell and Annihilation cannot be blamed on Knox and the Reformation. The fact he could go to university is a tribute to Knox’s improvements.

This feels like the first volume of a bigger work. It is about becoming Boswell, not being Boswell, and Zaretsky expertly highlights the points where Boswell examines himself on who he might be or not be. It is an overture more than an opera. But he did eventually decide, and that decision is important, even if he never managed to make his beliefs and his actions ethically aligned. The cover of the book is taken from the portrait I mentioned, but is clipped to show just the eye. It’s a red and rheumy eye, as if the sitter had just been full of tears. Later portraits show a swaggery, self-satisfied sitter. How did one transform into the other? Did the more comfortable Boswell remember the fearful, pompous Boswell?

The most melancholy part of Zaretsky’s work is Boswell’s anxieties. Johnson – twitchy, strange, grumpy, dislikeable – was far more of a tether to the self-loathing Scot than the elegant Voltaire or the iconoclastic Rousseau. Boswell sought out atheists and cringed when they advocated atheism. Johnson’s placid, placatory piety was more appealing, especially as he struggled to believe it himself. Both men were pursued by the black dog of melancholy, but Johnson forbore while Boswell caved in on himself. It makes Boswell more interesting, and Johnson more noble. Despite the fact that Boswell wrote one of the world’s greatest biographies, one always feels he’d rather have taken a selfie.

London Journal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Louisa Episodes


The most authoritative edition of the London Journal, as of the end of 2012, is that edited by Gordon Turnbull for Penguin Classics. (2010). The Journal itself (presented for the first time almost completely un-modernized in its spellings and punctuation), is a newly-prepared and carefully checked text, which corrects some flaws in the 1950 transcription which had been reprinted 1950-1954, almost always with no modification and usually just from camera-copies of the 1950 text. In addition, Turnbull includes the Memoranda, the "Minc'd Pye' journal-letter, the 'History' of the publication of Boswell's letters with Erskine, and the 'Scheme of Living' Boswell wrote as his budget for London. The edition is one of the most lavishly-annotated Penguin Classics, and it is the best edition for assignment in university courses studying the *Journal*, or for scholars wishing to cite the text in books or articles.

Boswell's London Journal, 1762-1763

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 370 pages
James Boswell; Edited by Frederick A. Pottle; Foreword by Peter Ackroyd
In 1762 James Boswell, then twenty-two years old, left Edinburgh for London. The famous Journal he kept during the next nine months is an intimate account of his encounters with the high-life and the low-life in London. In it Boswell tells of his struggle for independence from his family; he talks of his developing friendship with Samuel Johnson; he describes taverns, playhouses, and coffee houses he frequented; and he relates conversations he had with figures such as the poet James MacPherson and the actor David Garrick. The Journal, frank and confessional as a personal portrait of the young Boswell, is also revealing as a vivid portrayal of life in eighteenth-century London. Boswell's London Journal, with its useful introduction, scholarly notes, and extensive index, was first published in 1950 to high acclaim and has since become a classic in the field.
這本書的翻譯 每一頁 "錯誤連篇"
譬如說 noble church 翻譯成貴族去的教堂
同頁的 "大地島"等都看成是書名

 作  者: [英]鮑斯韋爾
 出版單位: 中國人民大學
 出版日期: 2009.04
《倫敦日誌(1762-1763)(英漢對照)》是英國著名傳記作家鮑斯韋爾1762—1763年在倫敦短暫居住時記錄的日記,堪稱一部英國斷代史錄。鮑 斯韋爾是英國大貴族,因不願順從父親的安排過墨守成規的枯燥生活而獨自出走倫敦。在倫敦,他見到了自己嚮往的生活:酒吧、妓女、賭場、整夜的舞會、無盡的 應酬……但貴族社會的虛榮、偽善讓他失望,而那些一擲千金、整日放縱的荒唐日子也讓他付出了代價。最終,他留在倫敦的幻想破滅,屈從於父親的壓力,離開了 倫敦。作者觀察細膩、思想敏銳,用青年貴族的親身經歷翔實記載了18世紀倫敦的社會、文化和普通人的生活,生動描畫了當時英國貴族的世情百態和冷暖色調。

詹姆斯·鮑斯韋爾(James Boswell,1740——1795),英國家喻戶曉的文學大師,現代傳記文學的開創者。鮑斯韋爾年輕時在父親的堅持下違心地學習法律,但他真正的興趣 在文學上,其所著《約翰遜傳》以資料翔實名揚天下,至今暢銷。在20世紀,鮑斯韋爾的書信、日記等大量手跡被發現,司各特與波特爾將其編纂為《詹姆斯·鮑 斯韋爾遺稿》18卷,成為研究當時英國人文歷史的珍貴資料。今天,“鮑斯韋爾”已成為忠實的傳記作家的代名詞。



This is the book that started the whole present-day Boswell-mania.
It covers the time from November 15, 1762 to August 4, 1763, beginning with his departure from Edinburgh, and ends with his last day in London before he left for Holland and his Grand Tour, not to set foot in England again until 1766.
We follow Boswell's fight for a commission in the guards, his affair with Covent Garden actress Louisa Lewis, his (declining) relationship with Thomas and Frances Sheridan, his reunion with his old chum William Johnson Temple and the beginning of his friendship with Samuel Johnson. We also hear of the gay life in London with Andrew Erskine, George Dempster and the 10th Earl of Eglinton, as well as his occasional depressions and a visit from Signor Gonorrhea.
The book is amusing and educating, and a great glimpse of life in society circles in 18th century London.
Boswell's London Journal was published by William Heinemann Ltd. in 1950. In addition to the standard hardback edition, a deluxe edition was printed in a stronger cover, better print and coming with a bookcase.
Another deluxe version was also published in just 1,050 numered copies, to which was prefixed Boswell's Journal of my Jaunt, Harvest 1762. This journal begins on September 14, 1762 and ends with November 14, 1762, covering his tour of southern Scotland to visit friends and family. This first journal is not available anywhere else.
It is a pity that the Journal of my Jaunt has only been published in a very limited number, as it is a great read, as well as a good introduction to Boswell's scottish background. Having read this journal gives greater depth to the London Journal.

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First words
The ancient philosopher certainly gave a wise counsel when he said "Know thyself."

"Conversation is the traffic [commerce] of the mind; for by exchanging ideas, we enrich one another." - West Digges (actor) as reported by Boswell.

"The mind of man [is] like a room, which is either made agreeable or the reverse by the pictures with which it is adorned." - George Dempster, 26 Feb 1763, as related by Boswell

"You have a light head, but a damned heavy a___ [arse?]; and, to be sure, such a man will run easily downhill, but it would be severe work to get him up." - Lord Eglington to Boswell, regarding his ability to start a thing, but inability to stick with it to the end.

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