THE OMINOUS YEARS by

THE OMINOUS YEARS

By
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The newest volume in the Boswell series brings us Boswell in the twenty months following his tour of the Hebrides with Dr. Johnson. The entries start innocently enough with a domestic journey to Valleyfield on September 24, 1774, but soon their tenor deepens as Boswell makes recurrent resolves to moderation only to yield a new to excess. Of these twenty months, four were spent out of Edinburgh confines, but these comprise more than half the material --a rich vein of London Boswelliana, full of meetings with Dr. Johnson, Lord Pembroke, Lord Mountstuart, the Garricks and others of nobility and wit; full too of debauches ruefully recorded along with the wifely distress of the rightly worried Margaret. Boswell is called to account for insulting the Lord Justice, arbiter in the lost case of John Reid, by the Justice' son and escapes a duel by the intercession of a friend. His affairs of estate become increasingly pressing as differences with his father continue. His lewd dalliances lead at last to an encounter with a different denouement as he is cunningly played (while he thinks he is in command) by the notorious Mrs. Rudd, who escaped the gallows through her own ingenious defense. Even at the heart of the London and Bath gaiety, we sense Boswell's malaise and see portents of the years to come. The journal closes with the Rudd episode of April and May, 1776. Geneological charts show Boswell's connections with the royal line of Stuart and other blood lines -- important in the inheritance accession as well as his place in society. Charles Ryskamp's comments place this squarely in the fascinating disclosure of Boswell's life, times and soul for the devoted Boswell follower.

Pub Date: March 20th, 1962
Publisher: McGraw-Hill