Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 85
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that the fact that Boswell does not record events immediately after they occur accounts for the
aesthetic and uniqueness of his narrative (Bell 137).
Boswell depicts himself as embarking on a "voyage of self-discovery," which lends a
picaresque element to his journal and gives the narrative a cohesive flow (137). Boswell does
not limit himself to writing his journal in prose. Instead, he structures some of the events about
which he writes as if they were theatrical performances. Since Boswell is a libertine who wants
to compete with other libertines, he uses his journal as an outlet through which he can record his
dalliances and boast about them. During his journal of "self-discovery," however, he finds
himself torn between libertinism and virtue and articulates these divided loyalties throughout the
Virtue, as it manifests itself in Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763, entails submission
to institutional authority and societal norms. Boswell's novelistic alter-ego articulates his own
struggle with following both virtue and libertinism early in his journal: "I have a warm heart and
a vivacious fancy; I am therefore given to love; and also to piety or gratitude to God, and to the
most brilliant and showy method of public worship" (Boswell 54). Here Boswell establishes his
propensity to debauchery ("given to love"), his penchant for self-congratulation ("most brilliant
and showy method of public worship"), and his recurrent intervals during which he vows to live
as a virtuous human being ("piety and gratitude to God"). In fact, Boswell admits to his
reflection upon irreverent topics during his attendance at a church service. He writes, "In the
midst of divine service I was laying plans for having women, and yet I had the most sincere
feelings of religion" (54). Boswell not only aligns sexual and religious ecstasy in thinking about
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/91/?q=rochester: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .