Wednesday, March 20, 2013

His Tumultuous and Awkward Fondness

Hey did I tell y'all that Michael Bible is back in town, at least for a brief spell before he goes off on another of his adventures? I spied him in the coffee-drinking section of Square Books the other day, where he seemed to be working on some writing. He saw that I was carrying THE LIFE OF JOHNSON and began chatting knowledgeably and eagerly about it, which did not surprise me, though Michael is a "modern" writer and I have always thought of his tastes as "modern" (I oversimplify). I read him out loud the paragraph about how when Johnson was a schoolteacher his "oddities of manner, and uncouth gesticulations, could not but be the subject of merriment" to his students. "In particular, the young rogues used to listen at the door of his bed-chamber, and peep through the key-hole, that they might turn into ridicule his tumultuous and awkward fondness for Mrs. Johnson." He called her "Tetty or Tetsey... which to us seems ludicrous," Boswell writes, going on to describe Mrs. Johnson as "very fat, with a bosom of more than ordinary protuberance, with swelled cheeks of a florid red, produced by thick painting, and increased by the liberal use of cordials..." Okay, Boswell, lay off! Gee.