The Jameses: A Family Narrative

R. W. B. Lewis, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $35 (695p) ISBN 978-0-374-17861-1
In an exceptionally smoothly blended narrative, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Edith Wharton traces the remarkable James family from William James of Albany, N.Y., who emigrated from Ireland in 1789 and founded the clan's fortune, to the death of novelist Henry in 1916. The main focus is on Henry Sr. and his three most prominent children: leading psychologist and thinker William; great novelist Henry, ``inveterate collector of impressions''; and Alice, political radical and frequent invalid. It was Henry Sr., with his fierce independence of lifestyle and many trips to Europe en famille , who provided the cultural seedbed for his children's intellectual development. Younger offspring ``Wilky,'' a Civil War hero, and the alcoholic ``Bob,'' tragic figures both, receive their share of attention. Above all, it's the story of a great family, one obsessed with the notion of family immediate and national, cleverly infused with quotes from and insights into their letters and books. Photos. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1991
Release date: 08/01/1991
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