Colm Tóibín & Sara Antonelli – On Henry James
This event is the Patricia H. Labalme Friends of the Library Lecture and is part of the series New Work in the Arts & Humanities: American Classics.
This year marks the centenary of the death of Henry James, the literary titan and cosmopolitan figure whose classic novels explore the culture clash between brash Americans and jaded European society. In this event, Colm Tóibín, the author of the award-winning novel The Master (2004), which unpacks James’s complex character towards the end of the writer’s life, will discuss James’s legacy with Sara Antonelli, who teaches Anglo American literature at the Università degli Studi Roma Tre.
From early novels such as The Europeans or The Portrait of a Lady, which pitted the innocence of the new world against the corruption of the old, to later works, including The Golden Bowl and The Wings of the Dove, James crafted increasingly nuanced portraits of American identities thrown into relief by their experiences abroad. Many of his stories are set against the backdrop of Rome, drawing upon James’s thorough knowledge of the inner workings of its patrician palaces and artists’ studios. James himself, however, despite his prolific output, copious letters, notebooks, novels, and plays, as well as the many portraits of him by friends, remains an enigmatic figure. This has made him and his work an alluring subject for contemporary scholars and writers, including Tóibín, who have speculated about many aspects of his personal life, including his sexual proclivities, his friendships with men and women, his relationships with his siblings, and his ill-fated interest in the theater.
The event will be held in English.
The 2016–17 Conversations/Conversazioni series is sponsored by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Embassy of Ireland in Italy.