Dante the Magician died in 1955, long before the invention of the Internet, so there’s no way of knowing whether he would find a website a fitting tribute to his accomplishments. Certainly, no laptop, tablet or tiny smartphone can communicate his larger-than-life stage presence, and it is no help that the visual record is fading rapidly. You can catch glimpses of old posters in collections around the world, which is wonderful, but the magician and his carefully crafted performances could be dismissed easily enough as “fake news” in a world that long ago lost its sense of wonder.
Thus, one major purpose of this website is to assure readers that Harry August Jansen was no myth but a very genuine talent, unique in the annals of magic, and an imperfect but loving person survived by a very real extended family. Indeed, Dante the Magician could not have existed without Jansen’s work ethic, skill and hard-driving personality.
Happily, Dante used words as effectively in his performances as he used cards, stage props and silks. Some of those words survive in his marketing materials, postcards and posters, along with those few precious snippets to be found in his videos. Dante inspired others to write several books about him, and we hope to excerpt some of the fine words and phrases too. Even those written works are becoming hard to find, so a website does offer some utility in being able to assemble the larger historical picture of Dante from multiple viewpoints.
Also, with any luck at all, we may be able to crowdsource and preserve long-lost snippets of Dante history by leveraging this website’s publishing platform and social media. We’ll do our best to erect the basic framework of Dante’s career in hopes that others can help finish the walls, floor and ceiling. Just as Dante could not put on a crowd-pleasing performance without the hard work of dozens of assistants and stage managers, this website will not become a worthy memorial if it lacks memories worthy of compiling. Please contact us if you’d like to lend a hand or suggest a resource.
Sim sala bim.