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Great hates 3: Dr Samuel Johnson

By Tom Chatfield  

It is thanks largely to the work of James Boswell that we possess one of the finest bodies of strong opinion ever to exist in English letters—that of Dr Samuel Johnson, who could be relied upon to fulminate upon almost any matter under the 18th-century sun without, it seems, even pausing for breath.

To pick just one example from the riches of Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson—which was first published in 1791, some six years after Johnson’s death—here is the doctor in full flow on the topic of Thomas Gray [1716-1771], the poet and author of “Elegy Written in a…

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