Notes of a Son and Brother and The Middle Years

Overview

After a childhood divided between America and Europe, Henry James settled with his family in New England, first in what he regarded as an outpost of Europe, Newport, and later in Cambridge. The family letters (the initial inspiration for this autobiographical enterprise), many of which recount the early career of William James at Harvard and in Germany, also reveal Henry James Sr.’s views on the intellectual, philosophical, and social issues of the time. Henry Jr., aspiring to be "just literary," acknowledges his...

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Overview

After a childhood divided between America and Europe, Henry James settled with his family in New England, first in what he regarded as an outpost of Europe, Newport, and later in Cambridge. The family letters (the initial inspiration for this autobiographical enterprise), many of which recount the early career of William James at Harvard and in Germany, also reveal Henry James Sr.’s views on the intellectual, philosophical, and social issues of the time. Henry Jr., aspiring to be "just literary," acknowledges his indebtedness to the widely cultured artist John La Farge, whose friendship he enjoyed during adolescence. The Civil War is recorded through the letters of his younger brother, Wilky, while Henry recalls a Whitmanesque longing for the Union soldiers he met and talked to. The death of a beloved cousin, Mary Temple, who would become the inspiration for some of his greatest fictional heroines, is documented through the passionate, questioning letters she wrote in her final year of life. In The Middle Years James, newly resident in London, gives his impressions of some of the literary "lions" of the time, most notably George Eliot and Tennyson. This first fully annotated critical edition of Notes of a Son and Brother and The Middle Years both offers the reader extensive support in appreciating the demands of James’s late prose and illuminates the context in which one of literature’s most influential figures developed a characteristic voice.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

The Henry James Review

Collister's editing sets a new standard for future editions of James's texts. We can now read both volumes of the autobiographies with a greatly enhanced understanding of the author's world.

Colm Tóibín

This new edition of Henry James's memoirs displays scholarship at its most painstaking and brilliant. The footnotes to the text actually represent an ingenious new biography of James and a marvelous and accurate portrait of his family and his circle. Peter Collister has done us all a great favor in the way he has approached James's efforts to re-create himself.

Pierre A. Walker

It is almost a century since Henry James's three autobiographical volumes first appeared. Only now, however, is a thoroughly researched and carefully edited critical edition becoming available. Students, scholars, and amateurs of James are greatly indebted to editor Peter Collister and to the University of Virginia Press for publishing this important new contribution to American literature.

Choice

[Reviewed in tandem with A Small Boy and Others, also edited by Peter Collister] The present two-volume critical edition of these memoirs makes a crucial contribution to James studies. Footnotes--so copious they often exceed James's text on the page--provide clarification, biographical and historical context, and relevant explanatory information. Drawn from archival sources and relevant James scholarship, the notes serve as a biographical companion, and often corrective, to James's version of his life. These volumes will prove indispensable for scholars and readers of James....Highly recommended.

Nineteenth-Century Contexts

Collister's historical contextualizing is impressive....[he] seems to have walked in [James's] footsteps and illuminates place and history....[This] edition likely to be unsurpassed as a scholarly resource....[whose] contribution is huge and, after nearly a century, deeply welcome.

Choice

[Reviewed in tandem with A Small Boy and Others, also edited by Peter Collister] The present two-volume critical edition of these memoirs makes a crucial contribution to James studies. Footnotes--so copious they often exceed James's text on the page--provide clarification, biographical and historical context, and relevant explanatory information. Drawn from archival sources and relevant James scholarship, the notes serve as a biographical companion, and often corrective, to James's version of his life. These volumes will prove indispensable for scholars and readers of James....Highly recommended.

American Literary Scholarship

A valuable contribution to scholarship.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813930848
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Collister is the author of Writing the Self: Henry James and America

University of Virginia Press

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 15, 1843
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      February 28, 1916
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Attended school in France and Switzerland; Harvard Law School, 1862-63

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction xi

A Note on This Edition xxix

List of Abbreviations xxxv

Notes of a Son and Brother

Chapter Summaries 3

Text 5

The Middle Years

Chapter Summaries 407

Text 409

"Dear bright little Minny": Mary Temple's Twenty-Three Letters to John Chipman Gray, 1869-1870 475

Chronology: The Early Years of Henry James 523

Genealogies 529

Brief Biographies: Family and Friends 535

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