Saturday, February 2, 2008


Have picked up a copy of James Boswell's London Journal: 1950, Yale University Press.   I've never heard of him but it seemed like an interesting volume.   Plus, only $10 at some surprisingly good used bookshop in Alexandria, a place I had not been to before.   The bookshop and the Masonic GW memorial are all I remember, though.   Apparently Old Town Alexandria is a festival of "cute," according to Cricket, but I seem to have missed it.

The book appears to be Boswell's diary from his years in London as a young man of 23 or so, arriving from his family land in Scotland circa 1762.   I have a feeling I'm going to regret not having found this earlier: a passage from the introduction which I opened to in the aisle:

Probably Boswell waked with a headache more often than any human being on record.   In his journals we read with terror his innumerable resolutions to be more "retenu," to build a more "solid" character, to quit "rattling" (talking like a fool), because we know it will immediately be followed by some grotesque excess.

I doubt if anywhere in literature there is such a bodily confession of of le diable au corps, the grotesque intermixture of human agony and absurdity. 

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