William James has long been a fascinating and pivotal figure in American intellectual life, and his contribution to the discipline of psychology is almost immeasurable. This reissued biography ties James' thought and his life together in a strikingly personal and richly detailed way.
Daniel Bjork uses material including James' diaries, class notes, family correspondence, and love letters to his wife, Alice. He goes beyond a chronology of key events in James' life and focuses on a detailed account of James' intellectual and creative development.
In doing so, the author takes highly original positions. For example, he downplays the importance of James' "spiritual crisis" in the late 1800s, an event much emphasized by other biographers. He also reveals James' emotional dependence on his wife, whose influence has been largely ignored. Bjork shows that Alice's support and encouragement were vital to James' "intellectual destiny."
This lively and vivid book will be of great interest to James scholars, graduate students, historians, and general readers.