Wm & H’ry, by J. C. Hallman

March 19, 2013

The letters that flowed back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean between William and Henry James are voluminous. There would be even more if some of the letters had not been burned to keep family secrets. Here are arguably two of the most influential brothers in American history—one a philosopher and psychologist, the other a literary writer—exchanging their thoughts, offering advice, critiquing each other’s work and reporting on the latest news. Their ex­changes dealt with aesthetics, art and literature, the nature of consciousness, the occult, their own health and gossip. “Literature rides the horse; letters peer into its mouth,” says Hallman.