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The Correspondence of William James

William and Henry July 1899-1901
William James. Edited by Ignas K. Skrupskelis and Elizabeth M. Berkeley
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BUY Cloth · 752 pp. · 6.13 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813919706 · $95.00 · Mar 2001

This ninth volume of a projected twelve continues the series of William James's correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues that was begun in Volume 4. Consisting of some 470 letters, with as many more calendared, it offers a complete accounting of James's known correspondence from July 1899 through 1901.

Volume 9 covers the period of James's great collapse, of his years of exile in Europe in search of health, and of the beginning of his withdrawal from full-time teaching at Harvard. In spite of his heart troubles, nervous prostration, and often-proclaimed inability to work, James wrote and successfully delivered his Gifford Lectures, which in 1902 were published as The Varieties of Religious Experience, probably his most widely read work.

In Europe, James develops a profound ambivalence toward America. He comes to realize how strong his attachment is to his home but at the same time he becomes more and more dismayed by the emergence of the United States as an imperial power with the consequent loss of what he perceives to be his country's moral purity.

James's views on religion are expressed in various fragments and asides. While creeds and churches continue to make no claims upon him, he believes that religious experience places us in touch with a deeper stratum of reality. Because of his intimate association during these months with the dying Frederic Myers, problems of psychical research are also prominent.

He corresponds with leading women in the emerging field of social work, including Frances Morse, Elizabeth Evans, and the Goldmark sisters, Pauline and Susan, and prominent intellectuals such as Théodore Flournoy, Wincenty Lutoslawski, Carl Stumpf, Ferdinand Schiller, Henry Sidgwick, Hugo Münsterberg, Josiah Royce, George Herbert Palmer, Charles William Eliot, James Mark Baldwin, and Edwin Godkin. His daughter, Margaret Mary, and his youngest son, Alexander Robertson, receive fatherly advice and encouragement from a distance during the crucial years of their young lives.

About the Author(s): 

Ignas K. Skrupskelis is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and a lecturer at Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Elizabeth M. Berkeley was Editorial Coordinator of The Works of William James.

John J. McDermott is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Texas A&M University.

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