About the Correspondence

The more than eight hundred letters of the correspondence of William and Henry James span half a century and amount, in my opinion, to the most comprehensive exchange in existence among figures of such deep and wide-ranging influence.  The correspondence was published in full only in 1994, when the University of Virginia Press released the last of three volumes dedicated solely to the brothers’ letters.  Deeply intimate, sometimes antagonistic, rife with wit, and on the cutting edge of art and science, the letters paint a portrait of the brothers’ relationship and measure the manner in which their dialogue shaped each man’s thinking, and, through them, much of the philosophy, science, and literature of the century that followed.  It’s safe to say, I think, that many modern disciplines and fields of thought would be vastly different without the correspondence that served for both men as initial audience and sounding board.