House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family

Paul Fisher, Author . Holt $30 (693p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7490-1

Biographers return again and again to the Jameses—the great novelist Henry, groundbreaking psychologist and philosopher William, diarist Alice (who became a feminist icon) and their parents and other siblings. Now Fisher, who has taught American literature at Harvard, Yale and other institutions, delivers a solid and crisp narrative of this fascinating American clan. In addition to the three prominent siblings, two other brothers labored to shine from behind the shadows they cast. But as Fisher reveals, much darkness and bitterness—along with a brilliant father who was both a Christian socialist and heir to a fortune—shaped these remarkable people. For all of its successes, the James family harbored its share of trouble: alcoholism, repressed sexuality, heartbreak, jealousy and adultery. Most importantly, in a rigidly prim Victorian world, the expatriate Henry, a resident of London, wrestled with homosexuality. He lived a closeted life of clandestine affairs with younger men—always wary of the dark fate that had befallen Oscar Wilde. Fisher narrates all of this, and more, vividly, cleanly and engagingly. (June 10)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 704 pages - 978-0-8050-9020-8
Open Ebook - 704 pages - 978-1-4668-5507-6
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