You are here: Home News Michael Anesko's exhibition, "Henry James: Commemoration," will run May 16-August 12, 2016 at the Harvard College Library.

Michael Anesko's exhibition, "Henry James: Commemoration," will run May 16-August 12, 2016 at the Harvard College Library.

Michael Anesko's exhibition, "Henry James: Commemoration," will run May 16-August 12, 2016 at the Harvard College Library.

More about the Exhibition:

“We possess a great man most when we begin to look at him through the plate glass of death“

Henry James (1843-1916) penned those words as part of his tribute to Robert Browning (1812-1889), when the great Victorian poet was interred in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. Visitors to this Centennial Exhibition can look at James himself through the plate glass of eight display cases, filled with books, manuscripts, photographs, and many other collateral testaments to a great man’s legacy.

In this exhibition you will see some of the many forms through which Henry James obeyed a deeply felt need to eulogize others—and even to commemorate the halting evolution of his own consciousness. While some have alleged that James was drawn to morbid plots and characters in his fiction, in his more personal writing—in his letters and private journals—occasions of mortality more typically provoke an almost Transcendental response, a kind of sacred reflex, urging him to hallow the memory of those he has lost.

As a fitting complement in this the centenary year of James’s passing, the exhibition also allows viewers to see (and hear) how others were moved to commemorate the author after his death. It would take several decades until a “James Revival” began in earnest, initiated in no small way by Harvard Professor F. O. Matthiessen, who taught the English Department’s first course devoted to the author; but by publishing a series of path-breaking books devoted to James’s life and art, Matthiessen brought others to a broader and more intelligent understanding of the writer’s achievement.

As Cynthia Ozick has observed (with a certain sense of awe), “with the passing of each new decade, James becomes more and more our contemporary—it is as if our own sensibilities are only just catching up with his.”

Michael Anesko, Guest Curator

http://hcl.harvard.edu/info/exhibitions/