Just in time for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show when all of New York City goes to the dogs, New York University’s Fales Collection will open “The Dog Show: Canines in English and American Literature,” an exhibition of over 75 first editions, manuscripts and other archival records of the “literary dog” wherever he is found. The show, which opens on February 13, 2002, and will be on display through April 26, is on exhibit at the NYU Fales Collection, 3rd floor of the NYU Bobst Library 70 Washington Square South. It is free and open to the public; for further information call 212/998-2596.
Mankind’s oldest lasting relationship outside his own species and perhaps even within it is with his dog. Dogs are there beside us, woven into the fabric of our history and culture more often than we are aware. A quick glance at our favorite literature shows that dogs turn up everywhere. From Odysseus’s faithful hound Argos in The Odyssey to the sheepdogs of the Book of Job to The Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare, and Dickens, over and over again, a dog is therewith something significant to say.
Young adult literature, of course, is full of dogs: White Fang, Buck, Lassie, Old Yeller, Lad, Big Red, to name just a few. But dog heroes appear in adult-oriented works as well: J.R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Virginia Woolf’s Flush, the many works of Rudyard Kipling and James Thurber, and on and on. And many other writers kept their relationships with their dogs more private; these include Eugene O’Neill, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Edith Wharton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, E.B. White and Dorothy Parker, just to name a few famous authors who had deep and poignant relationships with their dogs.
“The Dog Show” draws on the extensive holdings of English and American fiction in NYU’s Fales Collection, charting the ever-present literary dog. From Greek papyri to early printed books to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens and into the modern period, the dog is as common in the history of literature as he is steadfast at his master’s feet.
The NYU Fales Collection currently holds over 200,000 volumes of English and American literature and over 5,000 linear feet of archives. This exhibition is curated by Wendy Anthony.