According to James Boswell, what was his plan in recording the life of Samuel Johnson in the biography called The Life of Samuel Johnson?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An amazingly new idea at the time, James Boswell wished to create what he called a "Flemish Portrait" of Samuel Johnson.  This simply means that Boswell wanted to show the distinct personality of Johnson by using Johnson's own words in his conversations and his letters.  This revolutionized the art of biography and allowed Boswell's work to be considered one of the best biographies in history.  Some people still consider that to be so!  Why?  Because Samuel Johnson is said to "come alive" within it.  As eNotes relates so well, Boswell stayed true to his goal: to stay true to the basic function of biography which was "to focus on the subject and keep that person constantly before the reader."  Boswell's tenacity in regards to collecting letters and writing in journals is unparalleled, in addition to his vow to use only the bits of information that he could know and trust.  Luckily for the avid reader (but perhaps not so lucky for Johnson), this included all of the information on Johnson's flaws!

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The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

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