A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
A Journey to the Western Islands appeared in 1775,
and recounted Johnson's and Boswell's tour through the Hebrides
in autumn 1773.
(Boswell's own account of the journey, Journal of a Tour of
the Hebrides, appeared in 1785;
the two are profitably read together, although they're very
Boswell proposed the trip to the northwest of Scotland, although
it was often postponed. Together they visited Edinburgh, St.
Andrews, Aberdeen, Inverness, Skye, Raasay, Coll, Mull, and
Glasgow. The book's publication aroused much Scottish
resentment, not least from James Macpherson, whose Poems of
Ossian Johnson attacked as fraudulent in the
The standard scholarly edition A Journey to the Western
Islands of Scotland, ed. Mary Lascelles, vol. IX of the Yale
Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson (New Haven: Yale Univ.
Press, 1971), but A Journey to the Western Islands of
Scotland, ed. J. D. Fleeman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985)
is perhaps equally important and pays greater attention to
textual problems than the Yale edition.
You can save money with Johnson's Journey to the Western
Islands of Scotland and Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the
Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D., ed. R. W Chapman
(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1924), often reprinted in paperback
in the Standard Authors series. There's no commentary.
Fleeman's commentary on the Clarendon edition is probably the
best place to begin. Others:
- Thomas M. Curley, Samuel Johnson and the Age of
Travel (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 1976).
- R. K. Kaul, "A Journey to the Western Isles Reconsidered,"
Essays in Criticism, 13 (October 1963), 341-50.
This is part of a Guide to Samuel
Johnson by Jack Lynch. Comments are welcome.