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Boswell - Gordon Turnbull

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Gordon Turnbull
3.15pm

The great Ayrshireman James Boswell’s biographical masterpiece, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), rapidly rose to iconic status in world literature, and has had a rich and varied cultural afterlife. In one remarkable episode from 1902, King Edward VII, sensing the dangerous tensions building between Germany and Britain, invited his troublesome nephew Kaiser Wilhelm to England for a goodwill visit. Its ‘Crowning Event’, in the words of The New York Times, was a ‘Gala Performance at Sandringham House’ of two plays, one of them a short comedy, Doctor Johnson: An Episode in One Act, with a plot based on Boswell’s biographical masterpiece.

Dr Gordon Turnbull, head of the great Boswell editorial project at Yale University, revisits, with his trademark blend of wit and erudition, this extraordinary but now wholly forgotten moment in early twentieth-century global diplomacy. His talk, ‘James Boswell and the Great War’, will show the fascinating ways in which Boswell’s endeavour was put to work in an effort to defuse international antagonisms building dangerously towards war, a tribute to the compelling cultural power of Boswell’s biographical vision - genial, generous, forgiving and humane.


Concessions are available to students, registered disabled (plus one carer), registered unemployed, under 16s and Young Scot card holders. Proof of entitlement will be required at the door for all events. Thank you.
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