Unsurprisingly, every so often readers have an occasion to ask: Just how in the hell did stuff that occurred back in, say, 1964 get into an act-by-act, word-for-word account?
Is there a flavor of doubt in some such questions? Yes there is. And there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be.
The answer to such queries issues rightly from a centuries-old habit of writers of all species: journal keeping. The first such practitioner that usually snaps into the minds of English speakers is James Boswell and his subject. That of course would be Dr. Samuel Johnson, England’s great intellectual. Johnson is known worldwide for his work of nine years, “A Dictionary of the English Language,” 1755, often called “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship.”
Boswell’s “Life of Samuel Johnson” – “the most famous single work of biographic art in the whole of literature” – is a superb product of the “scrupulous fidelity” of his vigorous journal-keeping.