Qualities of Samuel Johnson as a biographer


 Qualities of Samuel Johnson as a biographer

Samuel Johnson is a English writer who has made lasting contributions to English literature as a literary critic and biographer. Here, we will discuss the qualities of Johnson as a biographer.

Meaning of Biography

A literary genre that portrays a chronological data of all the experiences and events occurring in the life of a particular person is termed as 'biography'. It first flourished in the middle ages in England. At that time they were written in Latin to glorify the saints to commemorate the good rulers. By the 18th century, literary biography had become a popular genre with numerous biographical collections such as Samuel Johnson's "Lives of the English poets". 

Qualities of Samuel Johnson as a biographer

Samuel Johnson is a pioneer of biography writing. All the basic rules required to produce a good biography is well manifested in his works.

1) Maintenance of objectivity and Balance

While writing a biography Dr. Samuel Johnson always focused to be objective and balanced.  His tactful narrative skill satisfies the readers curiosity and creats a thrist for reading to gain further understanding.

2) Representation of facts

Representation of facts about a person's life counts among the qualities of a good biographer. This information includes how a writer was influenced in his literary period, that is why Johnson mentioned that Cowley was influenced by John Donne and also influenced his period with the metaphysical concepts. As a biographer Johnson  doesn't hesitate to find faults. Thus, Johnson's presentation of facts about the life and writings of Cowley bears the sign of the best biographer.

3) Interpretative nature

Most biographies are interpretative and Dr. Johnson's biographies are not exception to it. He presents facts along with it's explanation.

4) Narrative Force

The narrative force of any writing when blended with psychological reality provides a lively flavour to readers. Johnson's biographies has the magical narrative force that attract readers. This quality is evident in the very outset of our present essay, "Life of Cowley" where he defines genius and describes the process of how Cowley become "irrecoverably a poet".

5) Reference of Other Writers

Johnson's biographies bears the mention of references of other writers which also exhibits his critical power and prejudices. In the essay, "Life of Cowley" Johnson mentions Milton, Dryden, Pope and Donne. Thus, as a biographer, Johnson is not only perfect but also influential. 


Thus, from the above discussion we may conclude that Johnson as a biographer has enhanced the potential of English literature. 

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