Welcome to Brilliant Minds

A companion site for courses by Peter Arcese on classics, contemporary literature, and the arts ... Here you will find items related to our readings and discussions ... Ideas, images, background information, suggested readings, bibliographies, and notes on related performances, all find a presence here ... Enjoy your reading and check back regularly for new posts!

Selections for Boswell's Life of Johnson

Here are suggested readings for our discussion of Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson. Page numbers correspond to the Penguin Classics edition, edited by David Womersley, with years in brackets.

Don't panic! If one section doesn't grab you, move on to the next and explore in between. Much of the experience is in immersing yourself in Boswell's voice and method. Notice what he is noticing and consider why he chose to remember and include what he did. We learn much about Boswell himself, Johnson, and their times.


19-21, 24-25 [1709], 38-39 [1726-28], 44 [1729], 48-49 [1732], 57-61 [1736-37], 68-69 [1738], 83-84 [1739]

104-06 [1747], 131-36 [1752], 139-43 [1754], 159-65 [1755-56], 169-79 [1756-58]

199-200 [1762], 204-11 [1765], 215-23, 226-29, 233-38, 244-52 [1763-64], 254-55 [1764], 257-60 [1765], 276-77 [1766], 281-85 [1767], 292-95 [1768]

304-06 [1769], 315, 342-45 [1772], 350-51, 369-74 [1773], 383-87, 397-99

400-12 [1773-74], 420-27 [1775], 435-47, 483 [1776]

502-11 [1776], 521-24, 533-57, 563-65, 574-81 [1777]

610-25, 629-33, 646-51 [1778], 655-58, 677-82, 685-99

700-10, 727-40 [1779], 749-50 [1780], 767-74, 781-86 [1781]

819-24, 849-57 [1782-83], 863-72 [1783]

916-18 [1784], 944-50, 999-1006

Romance of the Rose Selections

Welcome and great to see you all back! Here are initial selections for our discussion of The Romance of the Rose. I've used general line numbers since you all may be using different editions, and the English translation is becoming harder to find in print. 

The key selections for The Romance of the Rose are:
  • All of Part I (lines 1 - 4058); and 
  • For Part II, Discourse of Reason (lines 4059 - 7230)
From here on you can (optionally) concentrate on:
  • Nature's Confession (lines 15891-19438)
  • Genius's Solution (lines 19439-20703)
  • Venus's Conflagration and the Winning of the Rose (lines 20704-21780)

About Rachel, Monique and the Address Book

To get a richer impression of Sophie Calle's work, her relationship with her mother, and a moving portrait of her mother, this is the book to read and experience:

And here is a New Yorker piece on the Address Book, which created the controversy that threatened a suit for invasion of privacy:

Sophie Calle's "The Address Book," An Excerpt"

The Address Book, now re-published:

Teju Cole

To follow up on our discussion, you can find an outline of Prof. H. Mark Roelofs' concept of the Confessional Life archived on this blog, here: The Confessional Life

James Wood's key review of Open City in the New Yorker: "The Arrival of Enigmas"

Here is the recent article I mentioned by Teju Cole, on the topic of translation, at New York Review of Books: Carrying a Single Life: On Literature and Translation

Teju Cole Interview: My Looking Became Sacred (YouTube): https://youtu.be/71JZEWGtAm4

Teju Cole on Open City - The John Adams Institute (YouTube): https://youtu.be/CySelcG7C30

The Leonard Lopate Show Book Club: Teju Cole Open City (YouTube): https://youtu.be/W8Qf0Iohtos

Here is the magnificent photo book by Teju Cole and Fazal Sheikh, Human Archipelago (image links to Amazon):