Synopses & Reviews
Prize-winning biographer Richardson has written the definitive work on the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion--and on modernism itself.
and#147;A magnificent biography, written with ease and panache . . . and suffused with a well-judged admiration for its subject.and#8221;and#151;Michael Dirda The Washington Post
and#147;With this book, Richardson establishes himself as the Dean of American biographers.and#8221;and#151;Megan Marshall
"A biographical study of the highest order . . . [that I] will recall vividly for years to come." --Jay Parini, author of One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner
"To read Richardson's William James is to share this brilliant American philosopher's wild ride down "the great river of mind." --Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters
"This book is a gift of magic. . . . the powerful and various mind of William James is returned to us, alive." --Tracy Kidder
"Wonderful . . . a treat . . . In Robert D. Richardson, James has a kindred spirit." --Robert Stone
"A gripping and often inspiring story of intellectual and spiritual adventure." --Justin Kaplan Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A stunning book, eloquent, learned, ebullient and fully commensurate with its impassioned subject . . . Every unerring, brilliant page is a gift." --Brenda Wineapple, author of Hawthorne: A Life and Sister Brother Gertrude and Leo Stein
Pivotal member of the Metaphysical Club, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience, older brother of extraordinary siblings Henry and Alice, the remarkable William James put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion -- on modernism itself. In this thought-provoking and moving biography, James emerges as an immensely complex and fascinating man. Through passionate scholarship, Robert D. Richardson illuminates Jamesand#8217;s life and hugely influential works: the Varieties, Principles of Psychology, Talks to Teachers, and Pragmatism. At last, in this definitive work William James is given his due as a man whose influence resonates in innumerable areas of modern life.
Prize-winning biographer Robert D. Richardson has written the definitive biography of the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion& mdash; and on modernism itself. A pivotal member of the Metaphysical Club, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience, and older brother of extraordinary siblings Henry and Alice, William emerges here as an immensely complex man. Richardson& #39; s thought-provoking and utterly moving work, ten years in the making, draws on a vast number of unpublished letters, journals, and family records. Through impassioned scholarship, Richardson illuminates James& #39; s hugely influential works: The Varieties, Principles of Psychology, Talks to Teachers, and Pragmatism. Finally, brought richly to life through Richardson& #39; s brilliant insights, James is given his due as a man whose influence resonates in innumerable areas of modern life.
The definitive biography of the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion -- on modernism itself
Pivotal member of the Metaphysical Club, author of The Varieties of Religious Experience, eldest sibling in the extraordinary James family, William emerges here as an immensely complex and curious man.
William James, ten years in the making, draws on a vast number of unpublished letters, journals, and family records to illuminate what James himself called the "buzzing blooming confusion" of his life. Richardson shows James struggling to achieve amid the domestic chaos and intellectual brilliance of his father, his brother Henry, and his sister Alice. There are portraits of James's early years as a student at the appallingly hidebound Harvard of the 1860s. And there are the harrowing suicidal episodes, after which James, still a young man, turns from depression to action with "a heave of will." Through impassioned scholarship, Richardson illuminates James's hugely influential works: the Varieties, Principles of Psychology, Talks to Teachers, and Pragmatism.
As a longtime professor James taught courage and risk-taking. He was W.E.B. Du Bois's adviser and teacher, and he told another of his students, Gertrude Stein, to reject nothing -- that rejecting anything was the beginning of the end for an intellectual. One of the great figures in mysticism, James coined the phrase "stream of consciousness."
About the Author
ROBERT D. RICHARDSON is the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire. He is the recipient of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Melcher Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, among many other honors.
Table of Contents
Preface xiii Prologue 1
I . Growing Up Zigzag
1. Art Is My Vocation 11 2. Growing Up Zigzag 17 3. Newport and the Jameses 24 4. The Father 28 5. Newport and the Jameses, Continued 33 6. Harvard, 1861 41 7. Science and the Civil War 48 8. Comparative Anatomy and Medical School 56 9. The Gulls at the Mouth of the Amazon 65 10. Tea Squalls and a Life According to Nature 74 11. We Must Be Our Own Providence 81 12. A Dead and Drifting Life 85 13. Minnie Temple 94 14. William James, M.D. 101 15. Treading Water 104 16. The End of Youth 108
II . The Action of Consciousness
17. Hitting Bottom 117 18. The Turn to Physiology 123 19. The Metaphysical Club and Chauncey Wright 128 20. Charles Peirce 133 21. Cambridge and Harvard, 1872 139 22. Teaching 141 23. To Europe and Back 148 24. Emerson, Mill, and Blood 153 25. From Physiology to Physiological Psychology 161 26. Days of Rapture and Heartbreak 168 27. The Trouble with Herbert Spencer 176 28. The Action of Consciousness 183
III . The Principles of Psychology
29. Spaces 193 30. The Heart Wants Its Chance 199 31. The Feeling of Effort 203 32. Hegel in Cambridge 211 33. Death of a Mother 217 34. Goodbye, My Sacred Old Father 223 35. The Wonderful Stream of Our Consciousness 230 36. Not a Simple Temperament 236 37. What Is an Emotion? 240 38. The Literary Remains of Henry James Sr. 245 39. The Death of Herman 253 40. Mrs. Piper 257 41. My Only Absolutely Satisfying Companion 264 42. Hypnotism and Summers at Chocorua 268 43. Instinct and Will 275 44. Santayana at Harvard 283 45. The Psychology of Belief 287 46. Reunion with Alice: The Hidden Self 291
IV. The Varieties of Religious Experience
47. Response to Principles and the Moral Philosopher 301 48. Flooded by the Deep Life 310 49. The Death of Alice James 318 50. European Sabbatical 326 51. Abnormal Psych 1 332 52. Talks to Teachers 339 53. Abnormal Psych 2 344 54. Sarah, Rosina, and Pauline 349 55. Is Life Worth Living? 354 56. The Gospel of Relaxation 357 57. The Right to Believe 361 58. High Tide 366 59. Walpurgisnacht 372 60. California 376 61. A Certain Blindness 380 62. The Logic of the Absolute 385 63. Religion Is Real 389 64. The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness 394 65. The Sick Soul: Slouching Toward Edinburgh 398 66. The Twice-Born 402 67. Voluntary Poverty 407 68. The Mystical Center 412
V. The Philosopher
69. William James at Sixty 419 70. Bergson 424 71. The Ph.D. Octopus and Deweyand#8217;s New School 428 72. Emerson 432 73. The True Harvard 435 74. A Life of Interruptions 439 75. The Many and the One 444 76. The Modern Moment: Radical Empiricism 446 77. Schiller versus Bradley versus James 451 78. Royce: Pragmatic Stirrings 456 79. William and Henry 459 80. California Dreaming 468 81. Earthquake 474 82. A General Theory of Human Action 477 83. Pragmatism 484 84. The Energies of Men 489 85. The Harvard Elective System Applied to the Universe 491 86. The True Race of Prophets 497 87. A Pluralistic Universe 502 88. Psychical Researches Redux 506 89. The Meaning of Truth 510 90. Ever Not Quite 514
Epilogue 521 Chronology 525 James Family Genealogy 528 Notes 530 Principal Sources 586 Index 590