The broad purpose of this essay is to suggest an approach to sleight of hand magic, which looks at its social resonances as a dramatic medium. I outline a modern tradition of sleight of hand, that is a form of sleight of hand that was self-consciously described as modern by magicians. This tradition takes shape in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, and its stylistic influence extends well into the twentieth century. I argue that this modern style had a specific set of social resonances, which help to explain the power of sleight of hand magic as a form of performance. In particular, modern sleight of hand was intimately intertwined with the relationship between magic and crime, and with a now-unfamiliar distinction between magic and juggling. The point of this exploration, though, is not purely historical. Through it, I want to lay some ground for cultural criticism of contemporary magic. In this, my subject and stimulus is the Swedish card maestro Lennart Green.
How to CiteTibbs G. (2013) “Lennart Green and the Modern Drama of Sleight of Hand”, Journal of Performance Magic. 1(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpm.2013.1119