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Reading Group

Seminar: Jane Mallison, Samuel Johnson: With and Without Boswell (February 22 session) - Fully Registered

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 12:30 PM
| For members only | Whitridge Room | $60 for all four sessions, or $15 per session | advance registration required

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) is a writer whose name is familiar to most educated speakers of English. His bewigged image has appeared in New Yorker cartoons; similarly, if someone utters the words, “A man who is tired of London…” and pauses, his or her listener will finish the sentence with the words “…is tired of life.”

Likewise, most educated speakers of English know James Boswell (1740-1795) as Johnson’s wingman (how the lexicographer in Johnson would like this newish word!), his sidekick, his Sancho Panza—indeed, his, um, Boswell.

Yes, Johnson and Boswell are a familiar pair in our literary culture. The number of people who have read Johnson and/or Boswell is much smaller. In this seminar we’ll make a dent in that phenomenon by reading and discussing some of Johnson’s best-known and lesser-known works. In addition to getting to know him as a writer, we’ll become further acquainted with him as a personality by reading Boswell’s monumental biography (1791), a work regarded by many scholars as “the best biography ever written.” This volume will also introduce us to a number of fascinating individuals in Johnson’s circle, including Boswell’s perennial rival, Hester Piozzi (1741-1821), aka “Mrs. Thrale.”

This seminar takes place over four Thursdays:
January 25
February 22
March 22
April 19
all at 12:30 PM in the Whitridge Room.

Reading assignments are available to registrants, and books can be purchased from the Library.


To register, contact the Events Office at events@nysoclib.org or 212.288.6900 x230, or click below to register online.