Political Hypochondria: The Case of James Boswell

Allan Ingram

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Abstract :
Boswell yearned for most of his life for a political career, attempting to achieve office both through his own efforts and through the patronage of others. His own political views were those of an orthodox, at times extreme, Tory. Their origins, however, were complicated and involved Boswell’s own attraction to feudal lairdship in a romanticised Scottish past, as well as stresses and rivalries with his own Whig father. Moreover, his Torysm was also complicated by his sense of personal unworthiness, deepened by his doubts over succeeding his father as laird of Auchinleck. These fears in their turn were sustained by, and encouraged, his temperamental hypochondria, with its self-contempt and visions of futility. Political success would have given a measure of stability, and would have been a proof of worthiness, both for himself and for his father. As it was, his faith in land, order, male succession, political office were undermined by self-doubt, changeability, failure, fear of failure: political hypochondria.
Published : 2008-07-09


Allan Ingram, « Political Hypochondria: The Case of James Boswell », Cycnos, 2008-07-09. URL : http://epi-revel.univ-cotedazur.fr/publication/item/386