I first became interested in Henry James many years ago, when I realized there was something wrong with the critical tradition of The Turn of the Screw – namely, a century of criticism about the book had missed completely what James himself said it was about. A few years after I produced a thesis about all that, I wrote a book about William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, which took me through his entire oeuvre and got me wondering just how much of his vision could be inferred from his brother’s work, and vice versa. A short time ago, Robert Richardson Jr. invited me to propose a book for a series he was guest-editing for the University of Iowa Press. I thought at once of the brothers’ correspondence, which have been explored a number of times in the context of larger biographies, but never treated in isolation. Wm & H'ry: Literature, Love, and the Letters Between William and Henry James will be published in March 2013. This blog will feature snippets from the letters that stick out as I read through them chronologically. Please click here for more information about the correspondence.
I’m the author of several other books. The Chess Artist is about the chess subculture and my friendship with an African-American chess master. The Devil is a Gentleman is about William James and a variety of new American religions. In Utopia is a tour of utopian literature delivered in the context of visits to modern utopias in various stages of realization. And The Hospital for Bad Poets is a collection of stories featured initially in publications such as Tin House, Boulevard, Ecotone, Fifth Wednesday, and a variety of others.
Here is my author website.