James (1811-1882) was the father of five children, including William, the psychologist and philosopher; Henry Jr., the novelist; and Alice, a diarist. To his contemporaries, he was ``Absolute James,'' a passionate and outspoken religious and philosophical writer. In this eloquent and imposing book Habegger (Henry James and the ``Woman Business'') gives protracted attention to James's writings on the utopian doctrines of Fourier and the abstruse mysticism of Swedenborg. The general reader will find some of this heavy going; more intriguing is the analysis of James's contradictory parenting. Seeking the appropriate education for William, he moved the family all over Europe and America; he felt only William was ``cut out for intellectual labors'' and neglected his other children. The son whose novels would be celebrated for their psychological nuance spent one miserable year attempting to master accounting. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/1994 Release date: 12/01/1994 Genre: Nonfiction
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