“William H. Gass: The Soul Inside the Sentence” opens Monday, March 11, in Olin Library’s Ginkgo Reading Room and Grand Staircase Lobby. Drawing on Special Collections’ archive of his literary papers, the exhibition includes items related to each of Gass’s many books, which range from novels to short story collections to essays and literary criticism. Materials related to Gass’s education, World War II navy experience, teaching career, photography, and bibliophilism are also among the items to be displayed. Continuing through early July, the physical exhibition will precede a digital exhibit. Once available online, that ongoing resource will include content from the physical exhibition, as well as audio and video elements and a closer look at some of the Gass manuscripts.
Gass will also give a reading on the Danforth Campus in Wilson Hall, Room 214, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, titled “How to Behave Around Books.” Gass will open with an essay, “I Live in a Library,” and then read selections from his new novel, Middle C (Knopf). A reception and book signing in the Gingko Room of Olin Library follows, with Middle C and other books by Gass available for sale.
Gass is the David L. May Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, where he taught philosophy for 30 years and also founded and directed the International Writers Center. Gass began donating his literary papers to the Modern Literature Collection in the 1960s, before the publication of his acclaimed first novel, Omensetter’s Luck. Now in his late eighties, Gass continues to write prolifically, most recently publishing essays in Conjunctions andHarper’s, among others. Middle C is his 15th book.
To learn more about the Manuscripts unit at Washington University Libraries, visit the website. The reading and exhibition are free and open to the public, and the exhibition will be available for viewing any time that Olin Library is open (see the library hours page at https://www.library.wustl.edu/about/hours.html). Call 314-935-5495 for more information.