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This is the first comprehensive treatment of Johnson and Boswell in relation to Scotland, as revealed in their accounts of their trip to the Hebrides in 1773, the Journey to the Western Islands and the Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. Locating the Scottish journey both within the context of travel writing in the decade of Cook's Pacific voyages, and in an intellectual, cultural, and literary context, Pat Rogers's new interpretation of the writers' famous accounts describes the 'Grand Detour' which the travellers made in opposition to the standard Grand Tour expectations. Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia suggests a reason why Johnson undertook his long-planned visit in old age, and explores the relation between his Journey and the letters he wrote to Hester Thrale. Boswell's complex motives in making the tour are also explored, including his divided views concerning his Scottish identity, and his desire at a concealed level to replay the heroic venture of Prince Charles Edward thirty years before.
Setting the journey in the context of anti-Scottish feeling in the period, the book relates the themes and motives of the two narratives to the background of the Scottish Enlightenment on such issues as emigration and primitivism, and offers fresh reading of the major survey by Johnson and Boswell of Scotland after the Jacobite risings.