James, Sr., Henry Criticism - Essay

James F. Clarke (essay date 1855)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "James on the Nature of Evil," in The Christian Examiner and Religious Miscellany, Vol. LIX, No. 1, July, 1855, pp. 116-36.

[In the following review of The Nature of Evil, Clarke examines James's doctrine of evil, finding the author's theories inadequately developed and therefore impossible to comprehend, and concluding that James ultimately fails to solve "the problem of evil. "]

[The Nature of Evil] is a remarkable book by a remarkable man. Mr. James is remarkable because he combines, in no small degree, the qualities of a seer, a metaphysician, and a poet. His spiritual insight, or intuitive glance at spiritual realities, is penetrating,...

(The entire section is 7960 words.)

The Atlantic Monthly (essay date 1869)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Secret of Swedenborg, in The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XXIV, No. 6, December, 1869, pp. 762-63.

[In the following unsigned review, the critic provides a favorable overview of James's treatise The Secret of Swedenborg. The critic predicts, however, that the work will disturb some readers who might oppose James's belief that humans are creatures of God and that their existence depends entirely on Him.]

[In The Secret of Swedenborg] Mr. James rejects the idea of a Supreme Being, who, having created the heavens and the earth, and set life in operation according to certain universal laws, has ever since been resting and...

(The entire section is 1056 words.)

The Spectator (essay date 1885)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: A review of The Literary Remains of the Late Henry James, in The Spectator, Vol. 58, No. 2986, September 19, 1885, pp. 1237-39.

[In the following unsigned review of The Literary Remains of the Late Henry James, the critic offers a brief assessment of James's philosophy and contends that the volume is valuable not only for its content but also "as a psychological study of a very unique mind. "]

[The Literary Remains of the Late Henry James] is a book of considerable interest, though more, perhaps, as a psychological study of a very unique mind, than for the speculations which it contains.

The late Henry James, the...

(The entire section is 2247 words.)

Henry James, Jr. (essay date 1914)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An excerpt from Notes of a Son and Brother, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914, pp. 155-212; 213-47.

[The second son of Henry James, Sr., Henry James, Jr., was a novelist, short story writer, critic, and essayist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He is admired as a lucid and insightful critic and is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of the English language. In the following excerpt from his autobiographical volume Notes of a Son and Brother—published at a time when the elder James's works had largely been forgottenJames, Jr., offers his impressions of his father, portraying him as an absorbing and immensely humane figure.]


(The entire section is 2489 words.)

Ralph Barton Perry (essay date 1932)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Religion versus Morality According to the Elder Henry James," in The International Journal of Ethics, Vol. XLII, No. 3, April, 1932, pp. 289-303.

[Perry was an American philosopher and biographer whose two-volume biography of William James won the Pulitzer Prize for that genre in 1935. In the excerpt below, he argues that James, Sr., was an antinomian, or one who believes that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use because faith alone is necessary to salvation.]

Morality and religion are related in many ways. For example, each may be taken as the sanction of the other—belief in God as a foundation for morality, or the moral law as...

(The entire section is 5796 words.)

Austin Warren (essay date 1934)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Philosophy," in The Elder Henry James, The Macmillan Company, 1934, pp. 189-218.

[In the excerpt below, Warren discusses James's philosophy, examining in particular the relationship between the spiritual and the social.]

Whenever the eye falls upon one of Mr James' pages,—whether it be a letter to a newspaper or to a friend, whether it be his earliest or his latest book,—we seem to find him saying again and again the same thing; telling us what the true relation is between mankind and its Creator. What he had to say on this point was the burden of his whole life, and its only burden. When he had said it once, he was disgusted with...

(The entire section is 7609 words.)

Ralph Barton Perry (essay date 1935)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Father and Son: Style and Criticism," in The Thought and Character of William James, Vol. I: Inheritance and Vocation, Little, Brown, and Company, 1935, pp. 125-45.

[In the following excerpt from the first part of his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, The Thought and Character of William James, Perry assesses James, Sr. 's literary style and his critical methods and theories. The critic also discusses the elder James's influence on his son William, both personally and professionally.]

[For Henry James, Sr.] the most natural form of art, if art it can be called, was talk. Of all the arts, unless it be dancing, talk is the directest and most...

(The entire section is 8142 words.)

Quentin Anderson (essay date 1957)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: '"Father's Ideas,'" in The American Henry James, 1957. Reprint by John Calder, 1958, pp. 51-82.

[Anderson is an American critic, educator, and editor. In the following excerpt, he contends that Henry James, Jr. 's published reminiscences of his father prove the son's in-depth understanding of his father's philosophy, and that the younger James subsequently employed his father's beliefs in his fiction.]

In 1885, the year of the publication of A Little Tour in France and the serialization of The Bostonians, Henry James received copies of The Literary Remains of the Late Henry James from his brother William. The father they both admired...

(The entire section is 9728 words.)

Giles Gunn (essay date 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Henry James, Senior: A Selection of His Writings, American Library Association, 1974, pp. 3-29.

[In the following essay, Gunn provides an overview of James's life and philosophy, discussing his theology, his relationship to prevailing nineteenth-century views, and his influences on his sons William and Henry.]


On May 30, 1850, Edwards Amasa Park of Andover Theological Seminary preached an important sermon in Boston's Brattle Street Meeting House before the Convention of the Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts on "The Theology of the Intellect and That of the Feelings." Though his subject may have been...

(The entire section is 12647 words.)

Alfred Habegger (essay date 1988)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Bostonians and Henry James Sr.'s Crusade against Feminism and Free Love," in Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4, 1988, pp. 323-42.

[Habegger is the author of the full-length biography of James entitled The Father: A Life of Henry James, Sr. (1994). In the following essay, he argues that Henry James, Jr. wrote his novel The Bostonians (1886) in reaction to his father's involvement with the free love movement and his encounters with the radical press.]

There are some books that seem ugly, dull, and all wrong to contemporary readers and then strike a later generation as brilliant and right and presently get...

(The entire section is 3583 words.)


(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

What did Henry James Jr., born in 1843, make of his father's views on sex, love, and marriage? The son was obviously too young in 1852 and '53 to confront these views, although it is clear that he was uneasy about his father's contradictions and weaknesses. Twenty years later, however, when the father once again got himself embroiled in a public debate with Stephen Pearl Andrews on free love, and once again bespattered himself, Henry Jr. was old enough to understand.

The episode began in 1872, when the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher was accused of committing adultery with Mrs. Tilton. A correspondent from St. Paul, Minnesota, wrote Henry James Sr. and pressed him to comment on Beecher's apparent infidelity....

(The entire section is 4335 words.)