Blogging the Jameses

Reading the correspondence of Henry and William James, it’s surprising to see just how much of William’s will-to-believe doctrine and his ideas of the religiously “sick souled” appear, in nascent form, in letters to his brother. What’s even more surprising is measuring, in Henry’s replies, just how much of his brother’s thought crept into his evolving theory of fiction. I’m writing a book about the brothers’ letters for the University of Iowa Press, to be published next fall. Until then, I’m blogging the letters—one quote per day, with images attached, and sometimes a fragment or two of context. The effect of the blog, I hope, is not unlike how William described the experience of reading the letters of Schiller and Goethe: “The spectacle of two such earnestly living & working men is refreshing to the soul any one.”

J. C. Hallman was raised on a street called Utopia Road in a master-planned community in Southern California. Nevertheless, he is the author of several books, including In Utopia: Six Kinds of Eden and the Search for a Better Paradise.