One of my favorite events – mostly because they tend to appear unexpectedly like magic – is an update to Jim Steinmeyer’s “public newsletter” section of his website. Two days ago such a treat appeared. In his essay, he defends the portrayal of Houdini in his new Thurston biography:
I draw the analogy to a bright light, pointed directly at you. Robert-Houdin is the “bright light” of European magic from the 1840s to 60s. His magic is distinctive and brilliant, and it is easy for us to recognize its importance. Unfortunately, that “bright light” prevents us from seeing anything else near him—or, more to the point, anyone else…Houdini is now the “bright light” that prevents us from discerning the figures in the shadows, standing near him. Writing from the perspective of 80 or 100 years, I think that some of these other magicians need to be saved from the darkness and recognized once again.
- Steinmeyer, Jim. The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the battles of the American wizards. New York: Tarcher. 2011. 376 pp. Cover | Full Title