The Life of Samuel Johnson, Vol. II

Read by LibriVox Volunteers

(3.9 stars; 9 reviews)

Boswell's famous work on the life of his admired friend Johnson, the formidable poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer, is a milestone in the development of biographical writing, a treasure-house of Johnson's witticisms and opinions, and a window on his social circle that is packed with incidental detail of 18th-century life and concerns.

This second of four volumes covers the years 1764-1776. (Summary by Philippa) (14 hr 6 min)


1764 to 1766 46:20 Read by Justin Brett
1766(cont) to 1767 31:47 Read by Katie Riley
1768 29:48 Read by Katie Riley
1769 part 1 37:52 Read by Ruth Golding
1769 part 2 34:53 Read by Gary Dzierlenga
1770 43:07 Read by Richard Ellwood
1771 16:29 Read by BenW
1772 part 1 25:56 Read by Philippa
1772 part 2 45:10 Read by Anna Simon
1772 part 3 50:21 Read by Brendan Brown
1773 part 1 34:39 Read by Anna Simon
1773 part 2 37:12 Read by Anna Simon
1773 part 3 40:40 Read by Anna Simon
1774 34:00 Read by Justin Brett
1775 part 1 39:29 Read by Philippa
1775 part 2 42:22 Read by Philippa
1775 part 3 37:04 Read by Philippa
1775 part 4 44:57 Read by adsum iam
1775 part 5 48:34 Read by lennich
1776 part 1 31:18 Read by Anna Simon
1776 part 2 50:10 Read by Katie Riley
1776 part 3 44:24 Read by Katie Riley


Boswell shares letters, conversations, he had with Johnson.

(4 stars)

This continues Boswell's approach of using letters, conversations, etc., which allows Johnson to describe himself and his views on a variety of topics. There's an interesting exchange of correspondence seeking Johnson's advice on an issue involving Boswell's inheritance. Traditionally, only males could inherit property yet Boswell's father was apparently going to stipulate that an elder daughter would receive at least part of the inheritance. The readers were generally quite good, although it probably could have been better if more British readers had been available to better simulate how English might have been spoken in the middle of the 18th century. And it would have helped in the pronunciation of various names and places.

(3 stars)

A very enjoyable text, although it’s a shame that Justin Brett didn’t read the entire book - his pronunciation was impeccable, his Latin a pleasure to listen to, and as for his intonation and delivery, they cast all the other readers into the shade. The last reader of volume II was very poor, albeit infinitely better than the person allowed to read both volumes as the sole, named reader. The latter read so incomprehensibly that I was forced to turn to this multi-reader version. I appreciate all the readers are volunteers, but when so many of them are excellent, like Justin Brett, I can’t help wondering why any others are included.