House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family

House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family


10 thoughts on “House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family

  1. John John says:

    I am enjoying Fisher s presentation of family life among the Jameses, muchengaging for me than Matheissen or Lewis What I find a bit jarring, however, is his interpretive framework, which is a mish mash of Alice Miller on the dysfunctional family, the doctrine of various 12 step groups it seems, including AA, Children of Alcoholics, Co dependents Anoymous, and several others Fisher should have offered at least a page or two in an appendix to justify his application of family theory, addi I am enjoying Fisher s presentation of family life among the Jameses, muchengaging for me than Matheissen or Lewis What I find a bit jarring, however, is his interpretive framework, which is a mish mash of Alice Miller on the dysfunctional family, the doctrine of various 12 step groups it seems, including AA, Children of Alcoholics, Co dependents Anoymous, and several others Fisher should have offered at least a page or two in an appendix to justify his application of family theory, addiction theory and treatments developed in the 1970s and 1980s to interpret the life of a very unconventional family in the 1840s and succeeding six decades Sometimes I have the sense that Fisher believes that these 20th century insights, perhaps true for American sub urbanites of the 1980s and 1990s are timeless truths, applicable everywhere over all time Maybe so, but I d be muchwilling to suspend disbelief if Fisher had only helped me a bit on this point, for I have absolutely no intention of rummaging through tens of thousands of pages of James family material to settle the question for myself.Fisher presents absolutely no new information, which hardly seems possible at this point Be that as it may, I find the book engaging even engrossing, despite having read tens of biographies of Henry Sr., Henry Jr., Alice, and William.I must say as the book progresses Fisher s interpretive framework becomes progressively less instrusive, though it still informs his account I am finding the book quite engaging I just finished the book The second half of the book is quite beautifully written, well developed Just the right level of detail But again, Fisher has nothing new to offer I m wondering why he wrote the book at all, but I m glad he did It s quite a nice review of material that has been presented many times in the past, but then again, at my advanced age, I need reminders


  2. Rj Rj says:

    Each night I have been curling up in my bed with Paul Fisher s House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family New York Henry Holt and Company, 2008 It has been a pleasure to slip into their cosmopolitan gilded age world and to travel back and forth between Europe and the United States with Henry James, Alice James and William James Although Fisher s writing is often trite he uses similes and metaphors used by the James children in their letters in his ensuing descriptions and sli Each night I have been curling up in my bed with Paul Fisher s House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family New York Henry Holt and Company, 2008 It has been a pleasure to slip into their cosmopolitan gilded age world and to travel back and forth between Europe and the United States with Henry James, Alice James and William James Although Fisher s writing is often trite he uses similes and metaphors used by the James children in their letters in his ensuing descriptions and slips often into the psycho babble so popular with biographers, the book has allowed me to differentiate all the James personalities Reading a biography of the family allows me to arrange all the characters and events in my head and to place them in astructured manner allowing me to understand better their fascinating world It is also enjoyable discovering so many luminaries of the second half of the 19th century turning up even if often too briefly in Fisher s family biography Henry James meeting with Isabella Stewart Gardener is surprisingly left out and his interactions with the Curtis family remain at the sidelines At times it is like being at a party and wondering about someone fascinating who strolls behind the person you are in conversation with One can t help but be curious about that other person while still striving to pay attention to your host I find myself wanting to follow these often brief introductions and to see how all their stories interconnect Thinking also about how to connect them together myself in the manner of Christopher Benfey s cultural studies of intersecting lifes A Summer of Hummingbirds and The Great Wave and Irene Gammel s biography Baroness Elsa The group that Fisher follows is after all an important American family that moved in fascinating circles and includes characters that have continually appeared in my own set of readings and interests over the years Henry James sat for a portrait by one of my favourite artists John Singer Sargent in 1913


  3. Louise Louise says:

    This biography is an ambitious undertaking First, a biography of one person is project enough, and Paul Fisher is taking on a nuclear family of seven plus Aunt Kate Second, Fisher is also promising a fresh look at the James family incorporating modern views of psychology, addiction and the role of women.Fisher succeeds as much as can be expected given the large volume of material to wade through and analyze Given limitation on the author s time and a feasible size for a book, something had to This biography is an ambitious undertaking First, a biography of one person is project enough, and Paul Fisher is taking on a nuclear family of seven plus Aunt Kate Second, Fisher is also promising a fresh look at the James family incorporating modern views of psychology, addiction and the role of women.Fisher succeeds as much as can be expected given the large volume of material to wade through and analyze Given limitation on the author s time and a feasible size for a book, something had to give, and does.The author s strength is clearly in description The depth of his knowledge of this period makes the portraits of cities, steamships, expatriate life abroad, etc., the best parts and far richer than the portraits of the human subjects.More links need to be drawn to help the reader understand the people For instance, Henry Sr s devotion to the work of Swedenboug is frequently cited, but the philosophy and why it pulled on him is not explained Alice Miss , like so many women of her day is said to be marginalized within the family Fisher does a good job with the results but how this played out in the formative childhood years is never explained Wilkie and Bob are defined as self fulfilling prophesies of their parents expectations, but how the two young sons were marginalized is not shown Similarly, the title implies that wit will be a central theme of the book, but the first example of wit comes somewhere around page 100.This is a big ambitious book While the people portraits could have been stronger, they were very good The portrait of the period, the interpretation of the literary work of Henry Jr., the role of women as defined through the life of Alice and the general substance of the presentation are very good


  4. Amy Jenkins Amy Jenkins says:

    I was hoping that the book would haveof a literary bent in terms of helping the reader to understand the works of Henry James But I worked my way through this doorstop and learned about social history of this middle class family It did help me to understand the East Coast social scene I also thought it strange how often Fisher and apparently the James family wrote about the misery of the Wisconsin climate although two of James children settled there It s really not so different fro I was hoping that the book would haveof a literary bent in terms of helping the reader to understand the works of Henry James But I worked my way through this doorstop and learned about social history of this middle class family It did help me to understand the East Coast social scene I also thought it strange how often Fisher and apparently the James family wrote about the misery of the Wisconsin climate although two of James children settled there It s really not so different from NY It appears that a belief that NY is superior to the Midwest has been on the mind of many for hundreds of years.The damage of a severely paternalistic family is also apparent throughout the book Women are expected to be quiet helpmates and men are pampered in this family There s no black and white though Despite all the social abuse, this family was full of people trying to do their best within the social context of the time I do think that anyone who worked their way through this book, would come away with a full bodied understanding of this influential family and the building of east coast society Personally, I would have likedlines drawn between Henry James life and his writing


  5. Gayla Bassham Gayla Bassham says:

    Completely engrossing, even if you don t know much about the James family Henry and William are, of course the most famous but in many ways I found their lives less interesting than those of Alice and Aunt Kate two bright, frustrated women or Bob and Wilkie, the boys whom the parents wrote off as untalented early in their lives I started reading the book because of Henry, but he mostly seems to flit from dinner party to dinner party The prose is only serviceable Fisher overinterprets at Completely engrossing, even if you don t know much about the James family Henry and William are, of course the most famous but in many ways I found their lives less interesting than those of Alice and Aunt Kate two bright, frustrated women or Bob and Wilkie, the boys whom the parents wrote off as untalented early in their lives I started reading the book because of Henry, but he mostly seems to flit from dinner party to dinner party The prose is only serviceable Fisher overinterprets at times, and at other times seems eager to stir up conflict between the siblings for example, he describes Henry s refusal to attend William s wedding as hurtful when in fact William seems to have gotten married hastily when Henry was on another continent and had no opportunity to attend Sure, it s possible that William did this because he anticipated rejection but William being William, it s just as likely he woke up one morning and decided to get married the next week Still, I found this book unputdownable


  6. Sull Sull says:

    Not enough about Henry, but then perhaps he was the least interesting to this biographer out of that famous trinity of children in this ferociously intellectual family William, Henry and Alice James However, I do find Henry extremely interesting so I could have done with less of Alice and William, and I found myself becoming curious about the younger two boys, Wilkinson and Robertson, who get very short shrift in this biography So the book felt unbalanced from the beginning, tempting me to sk Not enough about Henry, but then perhaps he was the least interesting to this biographer out of that famous trinity of children in this ferociously intellectual family William, Henry and Alice James However, I do find Henry extremely interesting so I could have done with less of Alice and William, and I found myself becoming curious about the younger two boys, Wilkinson and Robertson, who get very short shrift in this biography So the book felt unbalanced from the beginning, tempting me to skip over the sections featuring tediously anxious over achiever William and equally but differently anxious under achiever Alice.Yet it s a well written eryudite investigative study of this eccentric literary family, so eventually I got sucked in read all of it and I have to say Henry came out much the sanest of the bunch


  7. Nancy Nancy says:

    House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family Paul Fisher It is indeed an intimate portrait, which was for me one of the book s pleasures The book is very much about the family members and their relationships with one another The dissection of their writings primarily Henry Jr and William s is relatively minimal The in depth characterization of parents and children and their 19th century lives was most interesting to me The references to everyone s letters and journals provid House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family Paul Fisher It is indeed an intimate portrait, which was for me one of the book s pleasures The book is very much about the family members and their relationships with one another The dissection of their writings primarily Henry Jr and William s is relatively minimal The in depth characterization of parents and children and their 19th century lives was most interesting to me The references to everyone s letters and journals provide exceptional access to individual personalities and family dynamics Now, I confess, my curiosity about their published works is stronger, stronger andpositive than it was when I had the opportunity to read them many years ago in college


  8. Kara Kara says:

    I was happy to finally check this book off of my to read list I have been a huge fan of 19th century history, the Jameses especially Alice , and the social history of the late nineteenth century in general, for many years I appreciate that Fisher s biography questions and challenges some of thetraditional and given readings of the James family including, especially, Leon Edel , and recovering some of the overlooked narratives in their lives Some ways he achieved this was by provid I was happy to finally check this book off of my to read list I have been a huge fan of 19th century history, the Jameses especially Alice , and the social history of the late nineteenth century in general, for many years I appreciate that Fisher s biography questions and challenges some of thetraditional and given readings of the James family including, especially, Leon Edel , and recovering some of the overlooked narratives in their lives Some ways he achieved this was by providingcontext to the Jameses many travels especially overseas , and tracing the historical development of hotels, steamships, the telegraph, and other turn of the century technologies An incredibly valid and necessary acknowledgement Fisher makes is providing names and brief biographies if available of all of the backstage help of the Jameses various residences servants, cooks, valets He also devotes great detail to the James women who are often pigeon holed in other biographies as one dimensional angel of the house or spinster stereotypes , especially the family matriarch Mary James, her sister Kate Walsh, and the James family cousin Minny Temple Fisher illuminates the James household as a subtle, hierarchical organism in itself, which provides arealistic and human glimpse into the daily mechanisms of this family of geniuses In other words, someone and not the grown Henry James Junior, himself prepared his meals and, amazingly, turned his socks right side out every morning These positive points ultimately overshadowed what I saw as some significant misses on Fisher s part While this book was so incredibly well researched, I often felt bogged down with peripheral details not necessarily related to what I saw as the scope of Fisher s narrative For instance, his biographical tangents on some of the James family acquaintances seemed as a mere opportunity for Fisher to show off his archival chops Additionally, the grace of his research was often bogged down with clunky language that tried too hard to appear witty and, dare I say, Jamesian, with predictable one liners closing each chapter I also found his use of theory to offer an occasionally fresh perspective, yet it wasoften than not underdeveloped and scattered And perhaps the danger of writing such a long book some details were repeated to the point of redundancy For example, do we really need to be reminded each chapter that William was Henry Senior s favorite son, or Alice, the only James daughter, was chronically ill and stifled within gendered Victorian conventions The book s family narrative wittles to a conclusion featuring a predictable solitary figure, which took a disappointing turn towards the conventional Jamesian genius biographical narrative These criticisms are relatively minor considering Fisher s undertaking to provide a fresh perspective to these voices in American literary history It is very clear that this book was done with much care something I appreciate over all else and I look forward to readingof Fisher s books


  9. Patricia Patricia says:

    I came to this as a general reader with no great knowledge of the James Family What I had read of Henry James I didn t enjoy and I knew of William and that was about it My knowledge of America in the second half of the 19thC was scrappy I found the book fascinating It is a portrait of the whole family and of the age There isknown about William and Henry and Alice and of their parents Wilkie and Bob the younger brothers were seen as failures and they left no written trails of their li I came to this as a general reader with no great knowledge of the James Family What I had read of Henry James I didn t enjoy and I knew of William and that was about it My knowledge of America in the second half of the 19thC was scrappy I found the book fascinating It is a portrait of the whole family and of the age There isknown about William and Henry and Alice and of their parents Wilkie and Bob the younger brothers were seen as failures and they left no written trails of their lives They both suffered life long ill health as a result of their Civil War activities and I wonder how they felt about the comfortable pampered older brothers who spent much family money and millions of words telling one another of their angst and minor inconveniences But of the Jameses we do know about their lives were lived in comfortable European hotels and lodgings and in large family houses in New England Their talents were indulged and allowed to grow although they did take a long time to develop This is a life of privilege and it allowed these men to become leaders in their fields but they also developed into fussy and pampered old age I enjoyed the world of New England and Europe in the last half of the century This was the age of the steam ships The James Family seemed to go backwards and forwards across the Atlantic with no qualms I always imagined it would be uncomfortable at the very least There are the odd health resorts and cures in Switzerland and German doctors And the difficulty Alice had in gaining independence from her family and the right to express herself Paul Fisher never makes their lives sound dull I took a long time reading this and came back to it from time to time and always found myself becoming absorbed in this world of the Jameses and the privileged part of the 19thC I still have no desire to read anyof Henry James books


  10. Oswego Public Library District Oswego Public Library District says:

    Here is a fascinating and detailed examination of the lives of Henry James, Williams James, and Alice James These siblings are part of a much larger family, but these three are the ones who have left a lasting impact on society.Henry James is one of the major figures of trans Atlantic literature His works explore the clash of personalities and cultures between Europeans and the New Americans William James was an important philosopher and psychologist Alice James was a diarist who wrote about Here is a fascinating and detailed examination of the lives of Henry James, Williams James, and Alice James These siblings are part of a much larger family, but these three are the ones who have left a lasting impact on society.Henry James is one of the major figures of trans Atlantic literature His works explore the clash of personalities and cultures between Europeans and the New Americans William James was an important philosopher and psychologist Alice James was a diarist who wrote about psychosomatic illnesses and wrote acerbic commentary on British life.This is the story of their unorthodox upbringing, the influences of many famous people on their childhood, change created by the Civil War, and muchMany insights into Victorian era thinking as well as new philosophies emerging The author has given readers a biography that is both interesting and comprehensive GDClick here to place a hold on House of Wits .One of Henry James most famous novels is The Portrait of a Lady


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family [PDF] ✎ House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family By Paul Fisher – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk An American odyssey that reveals the fascinating complexities of one of history s most brilliant eccentric and daring families The James family one of America s most memorable dynasties gave the world An American odyssey that reveals Wits: An Epub Þ the fascinating complexities of one of history s most brilliant eccentric and daring families The James family one of America s most memorable dynasties gave the world three famous children a novelist of genius Henry an influential philosopher William and an invalid Alice who became a feminist icon despite her sheltered life and struggles with mental illness Although much has been written on House of Epub / them many truths about the Jameses have long been camouflaged The conflicts that defined one of American s greatest families homosexuality depression alcoholism female oppression can only now be thoroughly investigated and discussed with candor and understanding Paul Fisher s grand family saga House of Wits rediscovers a family traumatized by the restrictive standards of their times but reaching out for new ideas and ways to live He follows of Wits: An Kindle Õ the five James offspring hotel children Henry called them and their parents through their privileged travels across the Atlantic interludes in Newport and Cambridge the younger boys engagement in the Civil War and William and Henry s later adventures in London Paris and Italy He captures the splendor of their era and all the members of the clan beginning with their mercurial father who nurtured inspired and damaged them of Wits: An Intimate Portrait ePUB ´ setting the stage for lives of colorful passions intense rivalries and extraordinary achievements House of Wits is a revealing cultural history that revises and completes our understanding of its remarkable protagonists and the changing world where they came of age.

  • Hardcover
  • 704 pages
  • House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family
  • Paul Fisher
  • English
  • 01 October 2016
  • 0805074902

About the Author: Paul Fisher

Is a well known author Wits: An Epub Þ some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family book this is one of the most wanted Paul Fisher author readers around the world.


10 thoughts on “House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family

  1. John John says:

    I am enjoying Fisher s presentation of family life among the Jameses, muchengaging for me than Matheissen or Lewis What I find a bit jarring, however, is his interpretive framework, which is a mish mash of Alice Miller on the dysfunctional family, the doctrine of various 12 step groups it seems, including AA, Children of Alcoholics, Co dependents Anoymous, and several others Fisher should have offered at least a page or two in an appendix to justify his application of family theory, addi I am enjoying Fisher s presentation of family life among the Jameses, muchengaging for me than Matheissen or Lewis What I find a bit jarring, however, is his interpretive framework, which is a mish mash of Alice Miller on the dysfunctional family, the doctrine of various 12 step groups it seems, including AA, Children of Alcoholics, Co dependents Anoymous, and several others Fisher should have offered at least a page or two in an appendix to justify his application of family theory, addiction theory and treatments developed in the 1970s and 1980s to interpret the life of a very unconventional family in the 1840s and succeeding six decades Sometimes I have the sense that Fisher believes that these 20th century insights, perhaps true for American sub urbanites of the 1980s and 1990s are timeless truths, applicable everywhere over all time Maybe so, but I d be muchwilling to suspend disbelief if Fisher had only helped me a bit on this point, for I have absolutely no intention of rummaging through tens of thousands of pages of James family material to settle the question for myself.Fisher presents absolutely no new information, which hardly seems possible at this point Be that as it may, I find the book engaging even engrossing, despite having read tens of biographies of Henry Sr., Henry Jr., Alice, and William.I must say as the book progresses Fisher s interpretive framework becomes progressively less instrusive, though it still informs his account I am finding the book quite engaging I just finished the book The second half of the book is quite beautifully written, well developed Just the right level of detail But again, Fisher has nothing new to offer I m wondering why he wrote the book at all, but I m glad he did It s quite a nice review of material that has been presented many times in the past, but then again, at my advanced age, I need reminders

  2. Rj Rj says:

    Each night I have been curling up in my bed with Paul Fisher s House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family New York Henry Holt and Company, 2008 It has been a pleasure to slip into their cosmopolitan gilded age world and to travel back and forth between Europe and the United States with Henry James, Alice James and William James Although Fisher s writing is often trite he uses similes and metaphors used by the James children in their letters in his ensuing descriptions and sli Each night I have been curling up in my bed with Paul Fisher s House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family New York Henry Holt and Company, 2008 It has been a pleasure to slip into their cosmopolitan gilded age world and to travel back and forth between Europe and the United States with Henry James, Alice James and William James Although Fisher s writing is often trite he uses similes and metaphors used by the James children in their letters in his ensuing descriptions and slips often into the psycho babble so popular with biographers, the book has allowed me to differentiate all the James personalities Reading a biography of the family allows me to arrange all the characters and events in my head and to place them in astructured manner allowing me to understand better their fascinating world It is also enjoyable discovering so many luminaries of the second half of the 19th century turning up even if often too briefly in Fisher s family biography Henry James meeting with Isabella Stewart Gardener is surprisingly left out and his interactions with the Curtis family remain at the sidelines At times it is like being at a party and wondering about someone fascinating who strolls behind the person you are in conversation with One can t help but be curious about that other person while still striving to pay attention to your host I find myself wanting to follow these often brief introductions and to see how all their stories interconnect Thinking also about how to connect them together myself in the manner of Christopher Benfey s cultural studies of intersecting lifes A Summer of Hummingbirds and The Great Wave and Irene Gammel s biography Baroness Elsa The group that Fisher follows is after all an important American family that moved in fascinating circles and includes characters that have continually appeared in my own set of readings and interests over the years Henry James sat for a portrait by one of my favourite artists John Singer Sargent in 1913

  3. Louise Louise says:

    This biography is an ambitious undertaking First, a biography of one person is project enough, and Paul Fisher is taking on a nuclear family of seven plus Aunt Kate Second, Fisher is also promising a fresh look at the James family incorporating modern views of psychology, addiction and the role of women.Fisher succeeds as much as can be expected given the large volume of material to wade through and analyze Given limitation on the author s time and a feasible size for a book, something had to This biography is an ambitious undertaking First, a biography of one person is project enough, and Paul Fisher is taking on a nuclear family of seven plus Aunt Kate Second, Fisher is also promising a fresh look at the James family incorporating modern views of psychology, addiction and the role of women.Fisher succeeds as much as can be expected given the large volume of material to wade through and analyze Given limitation on the author s time and a feasible size for a book, something had to give, and does.The author s strength is clearly in description The depth of his knowledge of this period makes the portraits of cities, steamships, expatriate life abroad, etc., the best parts and far richer than the portraits of the human subjects.More links need to be drawn to help the reader understand the people For instance, Henry Sr s devotion to the work of Swedenboug is frequently cited, but the philosophy and why it pulled on him is not explained Alice Miss , like so many women of her day is said to be marginalized within the family Fisher does a good job with the results but how this played out in the formative childhood years is never explained Wilkie and Bob are defined as self fulfilling prophesies of their parents expectations, but how the two young sons were marginalized is not shown Similarly, the title implies that wit will be a central theme of the book, but the first example of wit comes somewhere around page 100.This is a big ambitious book While the people portraits could have been stronger, they were very good The portrait of the period, the interpretation of the literary work of Henry Jr., the role of women as defined through the life of Alice and the general substance of the presentation are very good

  4. Amy Jenkins Amy Jenkins says:

    I was hoping that the book would haveof a literary bent in terms of helping the reader to understand the works of Henry James But I worked my way through this doorstop and learned about social history of this middle class family It did help me to understand the East Coast social scene I also thought it strange how often Fisher and apparently the James family wrote about the misery of the Wisconsin climate although two of James children settled there It s really not so different fro I was hoping that the book would haveof a literary bent in terms of helping the reader to understand the works of Henry James But I worked my way through this doorstop and learned about social history of this middle class family It did help me to understand the East Coast social scene I also thought it strange how often Fisher and apparently the James family wrote about the misery of the Wisconsin climate although two of James children settled there It s really not so different from NY It appears that a belief that NY is superior to the Midwest has been on the mind of many for hundreds of years.The damage of a severely paternalistic family is also apparent throughout the book Women are expected to be quiet helpmates and men are pampered in this family There s no black and white though Despite all the social abuse, this family was full of people trying to do their best within the social context of the time I do think that anyone who worked their way through this book, would come away with a full bodied understanding of this influential family and the building of east coast society Personally, I would have likedlines drawn between Henry James life and his writing

  5. Gayla Bassham Gayla Bassham says:

    Completely engrossing, even if you don t know much about the James family Henry and William are, of course the most famous but in many ways I found their lives less interesting than those of Alice and Aunt Kate two bright, frustrated women or Bob and Wilkie, the boys whom the parents wrote off as untalented early in their lives I started reading the book because of Henry, but he mostly seems to flit from dinner party to dinner party The prose is only serviceable Fisher overinterprets at Completely engrossing, even if you don t know much about the James family Henry and William are, of course the most famous but in many ways I found their lives less interesting than those of Alice and Aunt Kate two bright, frustrated women or Bob and Wilkie, the boys whom the parents wrote off as untalented early in their lives I started reading the book because of Henry, but he mostly seems to flit from dinner party to dinner party The prose is only serviceable Fisher overinterprets at times, and at other times seems eager to stir up conflict between the siblings for example, he describes Henry s refusal to attend William s wedding as hurtful when in fact William seems to have gotten married hastily when Henry was on another continent and had no opportunity to attend Sure, it s possible that William did this because he anticipated rejection but William being William, it s just as likely he woke up one morning and decided to get married the next week Still, I found this book unputdownable

  6. Sull Sull says:

    Not enough about Henry, but then perhaps he was the least interesting to this biographer out of that famous trinity of children in this ferociously intellectual family William, Henry and Alice James However, I do find Henry extremely interesting so I could have done with less of Alice and William, and I found myself becoming curious about the younger two boys, Wilkinson and Robertson, who get very short shrift in this biography So the book felt unbalanced from the beginning, tempting me to sk Not enough about Henry, but then perhaps he was the least interesting to this biographer out of that famous trinity of children in this ferociously intellectual family William, Henry and Alice James However, I do find Henry extremely interesting so I could have done with less of Alice and William, and I found myself becoming curious about the younger two boys, Wilkinson and Robertson, who get very short shrift in this biography So the book felt unbalanced from the beginning, tempting me to skip over the sections featuring tediously anxious over achiever William and equally but differently anxious under achiever Alice.Yet it s a well written eryudite investigative study of this eccentric literary family, so eventually I got sucked in read all of it and I have to say Henry came out much the sanest of the bunch

  7. Nancy Nancy says:

    House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family Paul Fisher It is indeed an intimate portrait, which was for me one of the book s pleasures The book is very much about the family members and their relationships with one another The dissection of their writings primarily Henry Jr and William s is relatively minimal The in depth characterization of parents and children and their 19th century lives was most interesting to me The references to everyone s letters and journals provid House of Wits An Intimate Portrait of the James Family Paul Fisher It is indeed an intimate portrait, which was for me one of the book s pleasures The book is very much about the family members and their relationships with one another The dissection of their writings primarily Henry Jr and William s is relatively minimal The in depth characterization of parents and children and their 19th century lives was most interesting to me The references to everyone s letters and journals provide exceptional access to individual personalities and family dynamics Now, I confess, my curiosity about their published works is stronger, stronger andpositive than it was when I had the opportunity to read them many years ago in college

  8. Kara Kara says:

    I was happy to finally check this book off of my to read list I have been a huge fan of 19th century history, the Jameses especially Alice , and the social history of the late nineteenth century in general, for many years I appreciate that Fisher s biography questions and challenges some of thetraditional and given readings of the James family including, especially, Leon Edel , and recovering some of the overlooked narratives in their lives Some ways he achieved this was by provid I was happy to finally check this book off of my to read list I have been a huge fan of 19th century history, the Jameses especially Alice , and the social history of the late nineteenth century in general, for many years I appreciate that Fisher s biography questions and challenges some of thetraditional and given readings of the James family including, especially, Leon Edel , and recovering some of the overlooked narratives in their lives Some ways he achieved this was by providingcontext to the Jameses many travels especially overseas , and tracing the historical development of hotels, steamships, the telegraph, and other turn of the century technologies An incredibly valid and necessary acknowledgement Fisher makes is providing names and brief biographies if available of all of the backstage help of the Jameses various residences servants, cooks, valets He also devotes great detail to the James women who are often pigeon holed in other biographies as one dimensional angel of the house or spinster stereotypes , especially the family matriarch Mary James, her sister Kate Walsh, and the James family cousin Minny Temple Fisher illuminates the James household as a subtle, hierarchical organism in itself, which provides arealistic and human glimpse into the daily mechanisms of this family of geniuses In other words, someone and not the grown Henry James Junior, himself prepared his meals and, amazingly, turned his socks right side out every morning These positive points ultimately overshadowed what I saw as some significant misses on Fisher s part While this book was so incredibly well researched, I often felt bogged down with peripheral details not necessarily related to what I saw as the scope of Fisher s narrative For instance, his biographical tangents on some of the James family acquaintances seemed as a mere opportunity for Fisher to show off his archival chops Additionally, the grace of his research was often bogged down with clunky language that tried too hard to appear witty and, dare I say, Jamesian, with predictable one liners closing each chapter I also found his use of theory to offer an occasionally fresh perspective, yet it wasoften than not underdeveloped and scattered And perhaps the danger of writing such a long book some details were repeated to the point of redundancy For example, do we really need to be reminded each chapter that William was Henry Senior s favorite son, or Alice, the only James daughter, was chronically ill and stifled within gendered Victorian conventions The book s family narrative wittles to a conclusion featuring a predictable solitary figure, which took a disappointing turn towards the conventional Jamesian genius biographical narrative These criticisms are relatively minor considering Fisher s undertaking to provide a fresh perspective to these voices in American literary history It is very clear that this book was done with much care something I appreciate over all else and I look forward to readingof Fisher s books

  9. Patricia Patricia says:

    I came to this as a general reader with no great knowledge of the James Family What I had read of Henry James I didn t enjoy and I knew of William and that was about it My knowledge of America in the second half of the 19thC was scrappy I found the book fascinating It is a portrait of the whole family and of the age There isknown about William and Henry and Alice and of their parents Wilkie and Bob the younger brothers were seen as failures and they left no written trails of their li I came to this as a general reader with no great knowledge of the James Family What I had read of Henry James I didn t enjoy and I knew of William and that was about it My knowledge of America in the second half of the 19thC was scrappy I found the book fascinating It is a portrait of the whole family and of the age There isknown about William and Henry and Alice and of their parents Wilkie and Bob the younger brothers were seen as failures and they left no written trails of their lives They both suffered life long ill health as a result of their Civil War activities and I wonder how they felt about the comfortable pampered older brothers who spent much family money and millions of words telling one another of their angst and minor inconveniences But of the Jameses we do know about their lives were lived in comfortable European hotels and lodgings and in large family houses in New England Their talents were indulged and allowed to grow although they did take a long time to develop This is a life of privilege and it allowed these men to become leaders in their fields but they also developed into fussy and pampered old age I enjoyed the world of New England and Europe in the last half of the century This was the age of the steam ships The James Family seemed to go backwards and forwards across the Atlantic with no qualms I always imagined it would be uncomfortable at the very least There are the odd health resorts and cures in Switzerland and German doctors And the difficulty Alice had in gaining independence from her family and the right to express herself Paul Fisher never makes their lives sound dull I took a long time reading this and came back to it from time to time and always found myself becoming absorbed in this world of the Jameses and the privileged part of the 19thC I still have no desire to read anyof Henry James books

  10. Oswego Public Library District Oswego Public Library District says:

    Here is a fascinating and detailed examination of the lives of Henry James, Williams James, and Alice James These siblings are part of a much larger family, but these three are the ones who have left a lasting impact on society.Henry James is one of the major figures of trans Atlantic literature His works explore the clash of personalities and cultures between Europeans and the New Americans William James was an important philosopher and psychologist Alice James was a diarist who wrote about Here is a fascinating and detailed examination of the lives of Henry James, Williams James, and Alice James These siblings are part of a much larger family, but these three are the ones who have left a lasting impact on society.Henry James is one of the major figures of trans Atlantic literature His works explore the clash of personalities and cultures between Europeans and the New Americans William James was an important philosopher and psychologist Alice James was a diarist who wrote about psychosomatic illnesses and wrote acerbic commentary on British life.This is the story of their unorthodox upbringing, the influences of many famous people on their childhood, change created by the Civil War, and muchMany insights into Victorian era thinking as well as new philosophies emerging The author has given readers a biography that is both interesting and comprehensive GDClick here to place a hold on House of Wits .One of Henry James most famous novels is The Portrait of a Lady

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *