Washington Square by Henry James is the literary focus this month of “The Big Read,” sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts to promote literature across the United States through events and readings of significant works by prominent authors. In New York City, eleven organizations linked up to schedule events throughout April.
Henry James lived around Washington Square Park for many years (although the building he once lived in – and considered historical for that fact – was torn down by NYU in the 1890’s while he was in Europe and he returned quite distressed about it*). Washington Square, one of his most famous novels in which main characters live around the Park, was not a favorite of his amidst his work. Nonetheless, the month’s extensive schedule around the book has been well rounded and creative (tho’ no events in Washington Square Park). There are a few more events coming up through the end of April.
Monday, April 27 at 7:30pm
Reading Group — Washington Square — Come to Talk or Just to Listen
Led by Jennie A. Kassanoff
Barnes & Noble, Greenwich Village, 6th Avenue and 8th Street
Join Jamesian and scholar, Jennie A. Kassanoff, for a special evening on Washington Square. Selected by Barnes & Noble Classics to write the introduction for their edition of the book, Kassanoff will speak on the book and lead participants on a discussion about the complexities of this novella.
Jennie A. Kassanoff is Assistant Professor of English at Barnard College, where she teaches late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American literature. She is the author of Edith Wharton and the Politics of Race.
Wednesday, April 29 at 7pm
A Reading of Selections from Washington Square by contemporary author and Henry James fan, John Berendt
Followed by a reception
Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street, Manhattan.
John Berendt is the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) and The City of Falling Angels (2005).
$15. Space is limited, please call (212) 777-1089 or email: nyc1832-at-merchantshouse.org to RSVP
Thursday, April 30 at 6:30pm
Cynthia Ozick and Michael Cunningham in Conversation
The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction
17 East 47th Street, betw. 5th and Madison, Manhattan
Acclaimed authors and Jamesians, Cynthia Ozick and Michael Cunningham, will discuss Washington Square, Henry James, and his enduring influence on American writers.
Cynthia Ozick is the author of numerous acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction. Her stories have won four O. Henry first prizes, and Ozick was recently awarded the 2008 Pen/Nabokov Award and the 2008 Pen/Malamud Award. Michael Cunningham is the author of the bestselling novel The Hours, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film. Both authors live in New York.
*More about “Henry James’ Uneasy Homecoming to Washington Square.”