Thursday, September 7, 2017


Picture By Napoleon Sarony 
By F. Guzzardi

James Gibbons Huneker (January 31, 1857 – February 9, 1921) was an American art, book, music, and theater critic. A colorful individual and an ambitious writer, he was "an American with a great mission," in the words of his friend, the critic Benjamin De Casseres, and that mission was to educate Americans about the best cultural achievements, native and European, of his time.
  • Literary critic
Huneker's support of the new realism of Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, and Frank Norris put him in the forefront of literary critics c. 1900-1910
  • Music critic
 In the 1880s, Huneker served the music editor of the Musical Courier followed by stints with the New York Sun, the New York World, the New York Times, and the Philadelphia Press. In his columns, he proselytized for Richard Wagner, Claude Debussy, Richard Strauss and Arnold Schoenberg 
  • Art critic
Though his love of Renaissance art, especially the Flemish realism of Hans Memling and Jan van Eyck, had been formed in his early trips to Europe and often guided his tastes, Huneker was appreciative of the new, more experimental art of Post-Impressionists like Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Odilon Redon, and Henri Matisse and, among Americans, the modern artists of Alfred Stieglitz's circle (e.g., John Marin, Marsden Hartley), the African-American Impressionist Henry Ossawa Tanner, and the realists of the Ashcan School. 
  • Theater critic
Huneker's tastes in drama were particularly modern. He recommended Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Anton Chekhov, George Bernard Shaw (intermittently), Gerhart Hauptmann, Arthur Schnitzler, and Frank Wedekind to American audiences long before most theatergoers were ready to accept their works. Wedekind's Spring's Awakening especially appealed to him as "a milestone in the modern theater's fight against sexual taboos."


A book of Superman new edition of "Egoist" published in US from Hoffmann & Hoffmann that saw his first appearance in 1909, is wholly devoted to those modern poets, philosophers and prose masters whose writings embody the individualistic idea as opposed to altruistic and socialistic sentiments. Amply discussed are Stendhal, whose cult, recently revived on the Continent, is steadily growing; Maurice Barres, French Academician; Anatole France, blithe pagan and delicious ironist; Max Stimer, the forerunner of Nietzsche; The mystics, Ernest Hello new to American readers and William Blake. Much new historical material can be found in the studies of Charles Baudelaire and Gustave Flaubert. The hitherto unpublished letter of the novelist, along with an original page proof of "Madame Bovary," corrected by his own hand, will prove of interest to his admirers. That brilliant virtuoso of the French language, J. K. Huysmans, forms the subject of a chapter, while certain phases of Nietzsche, including his famous published biography, "Ecce Homo", and Ibsen dramas, are also subjects of discussion. Altogether the book represents the most mature critical and analytical thought of the author applied to some of the most interesting literary characters in the modern Europe of 1909.



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