An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to That Island; and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli

An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to That Island; and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli

An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to That Island; and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli

An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to That Island; and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli


This first complete reprint of Boswell's book on Corsica since the eighteenth century is enhanced by comprehensive annotation, textual apparatus, and a critical introduction. Boswell designed his text in two parts: first, an Account of Corsica, which gives a historical, political, socio-economic, and cultural overview of the Corsican people, and second, the Journal of his tour to see the Corsican leader Pascal Paoli in 1765. This edition, unlike so many reprints of just the Journal, allows the reader to appreciate Boswell's original design.

The young and adventuresome Boswell wanted to write a book that would swing public opinion, and perhaps the British government, to support the Corsicans in their struggle for independence. He was well aware that his English readers had but the haziest ideas about Corsica gleaned from but snatches of news in the papers. The first part would therefore provide the context within which to understand and appreciate his account of his journey to and meeting with Paoli.

The complete text also illustrates aspects of Boswell that have received less attention than they might, namely, his sense of history, his political enthusiasm for national liberty, and his scholarship. He brings to the book a solid foundation in the Classics and the law, a facility in French and Italian, and a sensitivity to writing that, as the notes show, is evident in the reworking of his manuscript. The editors' introduction and the extensive annotation point up Boswell the scholar--assiduous, sedulous to get at the relevant sources, careful to do justice to those he disagreed with, and open about seeking and acknowledging advice. The text reveals Boswell as a serious and independent thinker and a writer committed to Corsica's independence. What he argued for and presumed was about to be achieved is still a matter of debate in Corsica and metropolitan France.


Your History is like other histories, but your Journal is in a very high
degree curious and delightful…Your History was copied from
books; your Journal rose out of your own experience and observation.

Samuel Johnson wrote thus to Boswell on 9 September 1769 after the publication of the third edition of An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to that Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli. His verdict, echoed with approval by virtually every writer on Boswell since it was first delivered, is tendentious, accurate about the ‘Journal’ but unjust to the ‘Account.’ It was not universally shared. the first edition of Corsica in February 1768 was sold out in six weeks and the second (also of 3,500 copies) in a year. Prominent reviewers were generous in their praise. However, the Johnsonian view ensured that the book was neglected for over two centuries despite its author having become known as ‘Corsica Boswell’ across Europe (it was translated into Dutch, German, Italian, and French within a year of publication). Neglected, that is, as a whole work; the ‘Journal’ has been extracted and published by itself on several occasions; but, with a single exception, the book has not been published in extenso since 1769. the exception is the edition in French by Jean Viviès in 1992. the present is the first complete reprint of Corsica in English and the first critical edition in any language. the text follows that of the third edition of Corsica corrected where necessary by reference to the first or second editions.

It has not been feasible to reproduce the minutely detailed, fold-out map of the island drawn in Edinburgh by Thomas Phinn; this is replaced by a . . .

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