Pdf [The Club] BY Leo Damrosch
Thing p168However far from being an unreflective cheerleader of libertarianism as if there were any other kind Adam Smith he of the invisible hand appears to have considered his notion to be descriptive rather than prescriptiveThe government of an xclusive company of merchants is perhaps the worst of all governments for any country whatever Adam Smith p307The oratory of statesman Edmund Burke receives Damrosch s scrutiny as well as in Burke s conclusion to this speech indicting Warren Hastings the governor general of IndiaI impeach Warren Hastings Esuire of high crimes and misdemeanoursI impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled whose parliamentary trust he has betrayedI impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain whose national character he has dishonouredI impeach him in the name of the people of India whose laws rights and liberties he has subverted whose properties he has destroyed whose country he has laid waste and desolateI impeach him in the name and by virtue of those The Favorite Daughter eternal laws of justice which he has violatedI impeach him in the name of human nature itself which he has cruelly outraged injured and oppressed in both sexes invery age rank situation and condition of life Edmund Burke p309The applicability of these orotund phrases to any modern proceeding is left to the discrimination of the reader although it should perhaps also be noted that the impeachment of Hastings after dragging on for years Fitness for Geeks eventuallynded in acuittalDamrosch does what he can to acknowledge the many women who surrounded the men of The Club like Hester Thrale who helped give Johnson a roof and bolstered him against depression although ultimately Damrosch can do little to counteract the bulk of English history a history which after all has been written by the weiners heh confirmed uibbler Edmund Burke might well have liked that pun terrible as it is at least according to Damrosch s accountIt s really tempting to dismiss the Club altogether as a convocation of Dead White Males but I do think it s possible to honor the manifold achievements of these men while still censuring their feet and other parts of clay and I think Damrosch does a fine job of walking that lineI will include one woman s words at least this is Fanny Burney about the noted beauty Elizabeth LinleyHad I been for my sins born of the male race I should certainly have added one to Miss Linley s train p199As The Club begins with Johnson and Boswell so it nds I found this observation from late in Johnson s life specially affectingAs I know of mankind I xpect less of them and am ready now to call a man a good man upon asier terms than I was formerly Samuel Johnson p352Although his wit remained savage when warranted this is Johnson from the same ra on the forgettable poems of Mark AkensideWhen they are once found to be generally dull all further labour may be spared for to what use can the work be criticized that will not be read p359Or to put it in modern parlance DNFRich multifaceted and dense you will want to finish The Club The dozens of vivid color plates in the middle of the book add luster as well although flipping back and forth between the images and the references to them did get a little distractingI very much need to thank my Goodreads colleague Bronwen for bringing The Club to my attention it s outside my usual range so I might well have missed it while browsing on my own Thanks As an avid Johnsonian I was amused by the book but learned very little As has been remarked by others the title is misnamed The book focused ntirely on the relationship between Boswell and Johnson touching on some of the Naked Choke early members of Johnson s conversational club here and there The book had almost nothing to do with the club itself While I know that thevents of club meetings only Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good exist within Boswell s journals and his Life of Johnson the author should have named the book something like Boswell and Johnson an Unlikely Friendship The book did remind me how misunderstood Samuel Johnson is While he was guilty of much verbal condescension and sometimes cruelty at bottom he was a man with a big heart who was largely beloved by the victims of his barbs He was one of the foremost social commentators with his Ramblerssays the greatest lexicographer until James Murray and Bryan Garner and a towering intellect His single handed composition of the first real dictionary of the English language with 40000 Murder at the Mansion entries and ten times that many representative uotations was perhaps the greatest act of non scientific scholarshipver completed by a single person Boswell on the other hand was a self important self absorbed narcissistic arrogant drunken whore mongering misogynist who accomplished only a single thing of note in his life recording the words of Samuel Johnson and reproducing them in his biography Boswell liked to pretend he was a gentleman but his treatment of all women including his wife was unforgivable In the nd he died the penniless loser that he was I am of course grossly understating the significance and worth of Boswell s Johnson one of the greatest biographies ver written and that could only have been written by an obsessed sycophant like Boswell who took down seemingly very word uttered by the other during their 20 year friendship But that achievement in no way changes my opinion of its author All this said does anyone doubt that Donald Trump would love to have his own BoswellHaving a chance to ruminate a bit on Boswell I was too harsh Yes he was all those things But those things were caused by a combination of his terrible arrogant father Alexander and his mental illnesses almost certainly profound depression and bipolar syndrome Of course Boswell struggled Who among us with his baggage and no modern treatment would not But that does not *EXCUSE HIS TREATMENT OF OTHERS PARTICULARLY *his treatment of others particularly While there is good stuff here my interest flagged about halfway in It s a long time ago and TMI about characters I
DON T CARE MUCH ABOUT THE BOOK IS DUE t care much about The book is due and I think I m doneJoseph Epsein s rave review paywalled Ask if you would like a copyWhat historical ra produced the greatest aggregate of human intelligence Fifth century BC Greece provided Socrates and Plato Pericles and Phidias In 18th century France there were the philosophes among them D Alembert Diderot Voltaire Helv tius The founding generation of the republic Jefferson Madison Hamilton and Adams would be Ame The Club was a group of polymaths who met in an inn once a week in the second half of the 1700s Made up of actors artists intellectuals and writers many of the members were people who remain well known to this day Johnson Boswell Joshua Reynolds Oliver Goldsmith Edmund Burke and Adam Smith amongst others I was Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, expecting this book to be about the meetings themselves and what theyntailed and discussed during these however rather it was a book of biographies of the members Damrosch takes ach club member and provides information on their lives work and idiosyncrasies as well as giving the reader information on the social cultural and political history of the time The book uses a range of sources including the club members journals work letters uotes and Johnson s own definitions of words within the dictionary he compiled Damrosch has researched well and places the sources vents and people themselves into context for the time thus providing an xtra layer that biographies often miss out and lead to the misinterpretation of information Further the paintings drawings and cartoons that are peppered throughout the book really help to give the reader a mental picture of both the club members and the historical setting I found this a fascinating read Damrosch is clearly a skilled biographer He is able to present the information in a very readable and clear manner and while the book is fairly long it does not read so While I would have preferred a bit balance between the members of the club there is a large focus on Johnson and Boswell and mentions of Rousseau and Voltaire who were not part of the club take up far page space than many of the members this nevertheless was incredibly insightful A perfect read for people who have knowledge of the club members and want to find out about them or ually know very little but would like to begin researching A book I am sure I will reread Thank you to Net Galley and Yale University Press for sending me an ARC in xchange for an honest review This is a history of one of the original London clubs that developed as a place where the merging bourgeois professional and literary class of London could gather for food drink fellowship and talking lots of talking The club members were self selected and it was hard to join Members included Joshua Reynolds Samuel Johnson Edmund Burke Adam Smith Edward Gibbon David Garrick and others The Deepest Sin eventually including James Boswell who wrote the great biography of Johnson The Club began in 1763 and continued into the 20th century as the London Literary Society One gets a good sense of what discussions at the club were like due to somexample provided by the copious note taking of Boswell The heart of the story however is twofold First it is the story of Johnson and Boswell which is worthwhile on its own although readers who have not done so should read Boswell s bio of Johnson The second focus of the book is to provide briefer lives of the most noteworthy of the initial group members along with some summaries of their critical worksSo the idea is that by looking at the life and works of the key members of the club one gets a better picture of the merging intellectual life of London in the Georgian Era In this sense the book is similar to The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand 2001 which provided a group biography of a discussion group after the Civil War that included Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr Ainter Joshua Reynolds proposed to his friend Samuel Johnson that they invite a few friends to join them very Friday at the Turk’s Head Tavern in London to dine drink and talk until midnight Eventually the group came to include among its members Edmund Burke Adam Smith Edward Gibbon and James Boswell It was known simply as “the Club” In this captivating book Leo Damrosch. Illiam James and Charles Pierce among others Menand s book was wonderful and won a Pulitzer Damrosch s book is also superb and he has an astonishing cast of characters with which to work The club as a vehicle for discussing all the participants works sufficiently to tell a good story The major players are outstanding In addition Damrosch also works in a number of women associated with club members who also contributed to this rich intellectual life although the club never admitted women Johnson and Boswell are still the stars of this show but the supporting cast is worthwhile The chapters on David Garrick and the London Theatre scene are specially good Really really njoyed Professor Damrosch s tour and company As a now budding 18C dilletante I say that this is the perfect book to accompany any reading of Boswell s justly celebrated The Life of Samuel Johnson What it isn t though is a thoroughly rigorous or xhaustive xhuming of the careers of the other club members Think of this rather as a personable winning urbane and wise set of Very Short Introductions to Burke Gibbon Sheridan Smith and others nergetic little lectrons orbiting around a nucleus composed of one uniue atom of pious maddeninglywinningly High Church Tory Johnsonium ver fixedly fused to one thankfully one and only bawdy goistic atom of Boswellia There is so much to approve of and forgive in ach of their lives to recount here but Damrosch s lively and rudite narrative serves as a steadying corrective to Boswell s book in places though I am only just past half way through that agreeable highly readable beast and would also give the casual reader many of the high points of that book without its attendant longueurs tho those are the whole point reallyEdit I forgot to mention one other thing I really liked and one I didn t the author is very good at bringing the women in Johnson s life into the mix as Boswell pretty much leaves them out Le valeureux guerrier especially Johnson s guide star Mrs Thrale who had little patience for Boswell s many personal failings So that was really good I was hoping to get much on Oliver Goldsmith though and he doesn tven rate his own chapter which is a shame as Johnson Snowflakes on the Sea esteeemed him highly and from what little I have read about him here and in LoJ he seems a very interesting character Not for the specialist then and like Grace Jones sez it s not perfect but it s perfect for me so much so that I shall read the good professor s books on Swift and Rousseau very very soon They were great talkers because they knew and did so much and many of them rose to accomplishments of the highest order No fewer than seven Johnson Burke Reynolds Garrick Gibbon Adam Smith and Boswell made up a constellation of talent that has rarely ifver been Wrathful Chaos: Five Books of Satanic Philosophy eualed The Club was started in 1764 by the painter Joshua Reynolds and the writer Samuel Johnson Membership was strictly limited Some but not all of the men were or became famous They were reuired to be intelligent and good conversationalists and they met weekly in the Turk s Head Tavern The Clubvolved over the years moving to a new locale admitting additional members and finally morphing into the London Literary Society which still xists today But this book covers its arly years and primarily focuses on the relationship between Johnson and his friend and biographer James BoswellThe book not only has mini biographies of club members and others in their circle but it places them in the context of vents and intellectual debates of the day including religion the arts slavery and imperialism I could have done without the xtensive discussion of Boswell s sex life but I Humanism: The Greek Ideal and its Survival enjoyed learning about these men The discussions of David Garrick actor and manager of a theater company and the playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Richard Brinkley Sheridan were of particular interest to me I had no idea that programs at Covent Garden and Drury Lane lasted for 5 hours The book was thoroughly researched well written andntertaining It made me want to read about some of the characters I also now want to read Evelina by Frances Burney which was described in this book I like it when books lead me to other books I received a free copy of this book from the publisher Reading about the mid to late Love 2.0 (A Cates Brothers Book, eighteenth century often makes me think of Duff Cooper s comment that the wit and conversations then invidence were such as had never perhaps been heard since certain voices in Athens fell silent two thousand years before Cooper was talking about Paris but the line is arguably The Fix even applicable to London where Samuel Johnson James Boswell Edward Gibbon David Garrick Joshua Reynolds and Edmund Burke respectively the world s greatest lexicographer biographer historian actor painter and orator would regularly get together in coffee houses to drink prodigious amounts of alcohol and shoot the shit in immaculately weightedpigramsThis book is an ntertaining introduction to the period and the milieu what it isn t despite the title is a history of the famous Literary Club itself Positive reviews say that Damrosch goes beyond just the Club but this is a bit like saying that Columbus went beyond India by landing in the Bahamas instead Yes he goes beyond it but he doesn t really go to it There were a few club members I was interested to find out about like the playwright George Colman mentioned once in passing or the Irish separatist Lord Charlemont not mentioned at all There is no new research here on the Club What there is ssentially is a narrative retelling of Boswell s journals and his Life of Johnson supplemented with a few short chapter length biographies of key associated names Garrick Burke Adam Smith tc and relevant historical themes a chapter on mpire a chapter on religious tensionIf that s what you re looking for this does the job xtremely well Damrosch is particularly good on unpicking those instances where an anecdote in the Life has been sanitised or altered from the way it was originally recorded in
BOSWELL S JOURNALS ON THESE OCCASIONS AND THERE ARE s journals On these occasions and there are he does a good job of making you feel that you re being shown behind the curtain And he does nail the ssential contrasts so catalytic for both men between Boswell and JohnsonBoswell was a romantic who fantasized about feudal affection between lords and their dependents Johnson was a hardheaded pragmatist Johnson insisted on reason and self control Boswell revelled in motional sensibility and seized gratifications whenever he could Johnson aspired to what he called the grandeur of generality and Boswell to specificity and piuant details Johnson crafted language in the carefully assembled building blocks of the periodic style Boswell s style was conversational and freeOn the controversies around the French Revolution Damrosch looking at Burke and his allies points outOne can t help reflecting on how nakedly all of these people declared a position which privileged people and their political allies today are careful to disguiseWhich is a good point though he doesn t take it any further and in general presents Burke as brilliantly foresighted He was but he was also uite reactionary In fact all of the club members were firmly conservative in their opinions with the xception of Gibbon on religion Johnson s response to the marriage of Hester Thrale to Gabriel Piozzi is a particularly upsetting xample this marriage feels like such a totemic moment of the period to me just because it seems to crystallise so much about class religion gender and beyond that just the incomprehensibility of people s reactions in a different age Hester was a smart and spiky Welshwoman who could hold her own with any of the male wits of the day she married an Italian musician and because he was Catholic and foreign and because she married him out of physical attraction was shunned by all her friends and family for it Johnson and Fanny Burney both told her having been friends for years that they would no longer speak to herAs an American Damrosch makes a few slightly curious asides about how themes of the day relate to the American Founders and occasionally the British geopolitical context gets the better of him he refers to Johnson s trip to France as the only time he ver left England despite writing at length about his journeys to Scotland and Wales There are also a few minor factual slips such as when he has the Hastings trial nd four years arly in 1791But in general this is a rich and rewarding distillation of the available primary sources There is no new information here and no new arguments but as an *Introduction To The People And The Time It S One *to the people and the time it s one the best books you could read Sir you have but two topics yourself and me I am sick of both Samuel Johnson to James BoswellThe Club is a frame biography But it is certainly than its parts At its core Damrosch nails together small biographies of Johnson Boswell Joshua Reynolds Edmund Burke David Garrick Adam Smith Edward Gibbons and other minor charactersmembers of the Club But this book goes beyond this It is also a history of the age using the members of the club as a lens into England in the mid to late 18th Century And since the membership of the club involved writers poets historians conomists artists actors tc it allows Damrosch the ability to peruse the age from multiple perspectives with Johnson and Boswell being the gravity at the center of the book Damrosch also does well to include the important women during this time AND to not sugar coat the poor behavior of many of the men specially Boswell It is a balanced work whose narrative keeps pace with the wit of its subjects I came here after reading Vol X last year of Durant s Story of Civilization Rousseau and Revolution Both do a good job of surveying many of the important minds of the timeNext up will be larger works by Boswell Johnson Smith Burke tc and bigger biographies of the same. Brings alive a brilliant competitive and Lachlan's Protg (English Edition) eccentric cast of characters With the friendship of the “odd couple” Samuel Johnson and James Boswell at the heart of his narrative Damrosch conjures up the precariousxciting and often brutal world of late ighteenth‑century Britain This is the story of an xtraordinary group of people whose ideas helped to shape their age and our own. .
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A hundred or so years ago when I was in grad school I took a course on seventeenth century literature the so called Age of Johnson I found the reading onerous but the professor Paul Fussell was one of the most renowned scholars of the period so I persisted It didn t hurt that Fussell was a very smart very ntertaining instructor Looking back I d have to say that he planted the seeds of a curiosity about that ra that persisted over the years Which is what prompted me to read this book And damned if I m not grateful for itWriting a sales pitch for a book like this is a daunting challenge What could possibly be tedious than a bunch of musty old 17th century Brits talking about Literature and Art and such Fair point I guess but that ain t THIS book This book is actually a pleasure to read Damrosch is the perfect guide to the subject He s an Conflict in Blood entertaining storyteller who knows his stuff calls out pedantry when he sees it is freuently uite funny and helpfully takes thatxtra moment to xplain what a particular word or phrase meant then as opposed to what it means now And best of all he presents the times and the personalities in the most lively ngaging and generous mannerThe Club was the name given to and by the luminaries who regularly got together to talk drink debate The Crucified Ones: Calling Forth the End-Time Remnant eat and drink A lot Over the years its members included Samuel Johnson his biographer James Boswell David Hume Edmund Burke Joshua Reynolds Adam Smith Edward Gibbons Oliver Goldsmith David Garrick and numerous others For many modern readers I know these names might be at least somewhat familiar but seeing them listed in this fashion is not going to be much of a draw But Damrosch brings them their times and the many faces of London society to splendid life And he does so with a light touch and a playful glint in his narrativeye if I mayAs he follows these men around Damrosch shows us what was happening in the streets stores and Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series) estates around them We get a glimpse of crime and punishment in those days the awful spectacle of public hangings that were designed to be long drawn outxecutions and that attracted large crowds Logic, Labels, And Flesh eager forntertainment We see the ubiuity of prostitution and the Dialogue: Relationships in Graphic Design eagerness and freuency with which Boswell and the other Great Men made use of their services with of course thexpected STDs and robberies that were also common parts of the transaction So common was this kind of thing Damrosch tells us that many wives of the period and of that class fully The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths expected the husbands to interact with prostitutesDamrosch shows us the perniciousffects of class at the time Heirs to fortunes were often merciless in their competition for inheritances House support staff maids servants cooks Modeling and Analysis of Communicating Systems etc were the single largest occupation in London and itsnvirons and vidently the most invisible because they never seem to rise to the attention of the Great Men Class and status were present verywhere in society Damrosch shares comments made by Hester Thrale a wealthy woman who allowed Samuel Johnson to live on her The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth estate about the shy young novelist Fanny Burney She is a graceful looking girl but tis the grace of an actress not a woman of fashion how should it be The Burneys are I believe a very low race of mortals Feel free to curl your lip in disdain and hear in your imagination the posh tones in which these words might have been uttered Was Burney aware of this dismissal It s not known but she did manage to reciprocate sometime later After writing several sentences about Thrale s wit intelligence and ability tontertain Burney observed Her manners were flaunting her voice was loud and she had no peace and allowed none to others but in the display of her talents Damrosch also captures the benighted state of medicine at the time Doctors could do next to nothing to treat disease Damrosch tells of a 4 year old child suffering from an ar infection made worse by a case of the measles Trying to cure the child her parents had her seen by several physicians one after another The treatments began with sarsaparilla tea and went from there through blistering purgation and leeches The child died Indeed the child mortality rate was horrifying at all levels of societyBoswell and Johnson njoy most of the attention unsurprisingly and we are granted fascinating glimpses In Deeper estimable and otherwise into their humanity Both were subject to severe bouts of depression Boswell once described his mood as a room where somebody has by accident snuffed out the candles and held morbid fears of insanity Johnson was nearly blind in oneye and suffered throughout his life from numerous uncontrollable tics both physical and verbal Boswell had a higher stimation of himself than he deserved he wrote and published an anonymous rave review of one of his own books but he was generally a good companion and a gifted raconteur of stories And dear lord he seemed to be perpetually priapic His interaction with prostitutes and occasionally women of his own class were so numerous as to beggar belief One can only gasp at the freuency with which he must have undergone whatever treatments were popular then for venerealdiseases arsenic and *Were Two Of Them One Wonders About Their Efficacy Boswell *two
Of Them One Wondersthem one wonders their fficacy t shy about writing of his sexual Audiology exploits in his journals and later scholars found plentifulvidence of pages being torn out by relatives after his death That notwithstanding when the first volume of an dition of his journals was published in 1951 it stayed at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for months and was a very popular Book of the Month Club selection for those of my readers here who are old nough to know what that was Late in his life Boswell commissioned a portrait of himself by his friend Joshua Reynolds for which he Financial Modeling and Valuation: A Practical Guide to Investment Banking and Private Equity ended up paying only half the fee Years later his heirs were so ashamed of Boswell s self depiction in the Life of Johnson that they banished the portrait to the attic His great granddaughterventually brought it back downstairs so visitors could take potshots at it with a pistol It s in a museum now I assume it s been repaired though I suppose it s possible that her guests were terrible shotsThis is already far too long so I ll dispense with narration and list some of the things that struck me in reading The Club The brilliant men who participated in those venings drank limitless bottles of wine and ate meals of many many courses Unsurprisingly many suffered from gout and than a few were morbidly obese I have no notion of health for a man whose mouth cannot be sewed up one woman wrote of her husband Heart attacks and strokes were uite common among them and their peersEdmund Burke s words about impeachment and government resonate today as do David Hume s observations about religion Hear the verbal protestations of all men nothing so certain as their religious tenets Examine their lives you will scarcely think that they repose the smallest confidence in them And of course there are the xamples of Johnson s acerbic wit As he famously wrote reading Paradise Lost was a duty rather than a pleasure Milton s Learning Unreal® Engine iOS Game Development epic long the bane of studentsverywhere was one of the books which the reader admires and lays down and forgets to take up again None ver wished it longer than it is The same can t be said of The Club at least not for me I would that it had gone a hundred pages Following Leo Damrosch s lead I m going to uote liberally from the subjects of The Club in this review for although his own prose is certainly lively and accessible the real stars are the individuals Damrosch studies like Samuel Johnson James Boswell Edmund Burke Edward Gibbon Adam Smith and others who began meeting and xchanging ideas in London s Turk s Head Tavern back in 1764Although a much changed version of the Club xists ven in the present day The Club focuses on its first twenty years and most of the best bon mots in the book come from just one of its founding members Samuel Johnson Possibly this is because his scribe Boswell did his best to record verything Johnson said in his hearing Consider these xamples from arly in The ClubThere is no doubt that a man may appear very gay in company who is sad at heart His merriment is like the sound of drums and trumpets in a battle to drown the groans of the wounded and dying Samuel Johnson p18and the savage sarcasm ofIf any creditors Johnson says could really be indifferent to the suffering ndured by a debtor s prisoner s wife and children I must leave them to be awakened by some other power for I write only to human beings p40Damrosch often uotes from Johnson s own landmark A Dictionary of the English Language as well as his source for contemporary definitions of words whose meanings have shiftedAnd Damrosch is not above inserting his own opinions as well now and thenBoswell always did The Governess Club: Bonnie enjoy the sound of his own voice p267The Club isn t just about Johnson and Boswell though Take forxample the way Damrosch compares the opinions of historian Edward Gibbon and The Go Girl Guide: Surviving the mating frenzy with savvy, soul and style economist Adam Smith in this passageIn the Decline and Fall Gibbon states as a truism Most of the crimes which disturb the internal peace of society are produced by the restraints which the necessary but uneual laws of property have imposed on the appetites of mankind by confining to a few the possession of those objects that are coveted by manyAdam Smith with whom Gibbon developed a friendship saidxactly the same thing in a series of lectures on jurisprudence Laws and government may be considered as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor and preserve to themselves the ineuality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an uality with themselves by open violenceRousseau and Marx could not have put it better xcept that in Smith s opinion this was a very good. Named one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 • A Kirkus Best Book of 2019 “Damrosch brings the Club’s redoubtable personalities the brilliant minds the jousting wits the tender camaraderie to vivid life” New York Times Book Review “Magnificently ntertaining” Washington Post In 1763 the