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Death and the Maiden

Mary-Kay Wilmers

6 August 1981
Alice James 
by Jean Strouse.
Cape, 367 pp., £9.95, February 1981, 0 224 01436 6
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The Death and Letters of Alice James 
edited by Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
California, 214 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 520 03745 6
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... but they weren’t allowed to think badly of themselves either: to have done so would have been to admit what their father’s philosophy proscribed – the presence of evil in the James household. JeanStrouse, in her excellent biography of Alice, points out the difficulty that all this positive thinking caused James’s children: ‘To be innocent and good meant not to know the darker sides of one ...
16 March 2000
Morgan: American Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... the organ peals forth does not his conscience supply a discord with the wails and cries of those whose lives are sacrificed to the voracious demands of his class?’ The answer was mostly no. Yet as JeanStrouse shows, Morgan was not a monster. What he was, in a way peculiar to his type, was unreflective, serenely confident in the saving virtues of market stability and steady productive growth. So ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne

21 November 1991
The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... present literary executor. Many bestridees seem to have continued to assume that the Colossal labour has done it all, but a few have emerged from the shadow and achieved some stature of their own: JeanStrouse in Alice James: A Biography (1980); Ruth Bernard Yeazell in The Death and Letters of Alice James (1981); Howard Feinstein in Becoming William James (1984); Gerald Myers in William James: His ...

I like you

Hermione Lee: Boston Marriage

24 May 2007
Between Women: Friendship, Desire and Marriage in Victorian England 
by Sharon Marcus.
Princeton, 356 pp., £12.95, March 2007, 978 0 691 12835 1
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... she doesn’t mention James’s savage satire on female marriage in The Bostonians, or his troubled feelings about his sister’s ‘Boston marriage’ to Katharine Loring (brilliantly analysed by JeanStrouse in her book about Alice James). His darkly sardonic attitudes to female partnerships might have clouded the generally positive, fresh, pioneering spirit of Marcus’s book. But even if the ...
5 March 1987
William James: His Life and Thought 
by Gerald Myers.
Yale, 628 pp., £30, October 1986, 0 300 03417 2
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... Henry. The only sensible verdict on the accusation of underlying animus is ‘not proven’. Myers offers a similar defence of William in his relations with Alice. Many of her troubles, according to JeanStrouse, her biographer, were William’s fault. He is supposed to have dominated her, to have flirted with her, and to have contributed by his engagement and marriage to her mental breakdown. There ...

Leaping on Tables

Norman Vance: Thomas Carlyle

2 November 2000
Sartor Resartus 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by Rodger Tarr and Mark Engel.
California, 774 pp., £38, April 2000, 0 520 20928 1
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... that the leading talents of the bourgeoisie were now in decline, morally and intellectually, and prompted a harsh reassessment. Carlyle had earlier translated the whimsical German Romantic novelist Jean Paul Richter, lyrical and discursive by turns, a major influence on Sartor Resartus, and Marx now noted and deplored the pervasive effect on Carlyle’s style of this ‘literary apothecary ...

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