The Varieties of Religious Experience Analysis

William James

Historical Context

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

James’s Contemporaries
Alfred Adler (1870–1937), an Austrian psychiatrist, began his studies with Sigmund Freud but...

(The entire section is 933 words.)

Literary Style

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Since The Varieties of Religious Experience was originally delivered in the form of spoken lectures, the style of writing is dictated...

(The entire section is 320 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Ferrari, Michel, Introduction, in Journal of Consciousness Studies, Vol. 9, No. 9–10, 2002, pp. 1–10.


(The entire section is 433 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Carrette, Jeremy, ed. William James and “The Varieties of Religious Experience”: A Centenary Celebration. New York: Routledge, 2005. A collection of more than a dozen scholarly essays examining James and the history of psychology; James, psychology, and religion; and James and mysticism. Illustrated; bibliographical references, index.

James, William. The Meaning of Truth. New York: Longmans, Green, 1909. This is James’s more mature and systematic position on truth, which is quite relevant to his suggestions at the end of the present work and The Will to Believe.

James, William. The Will to Believe, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy. New York: Dover, 1956. Particularly in the title essay, James virtually takes up where he disappointedly left off in The Varieties of Religious Experience, with an evaluation of the truth of religious beliefs.

Richardson, Robert D. William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. A major biography of James, a comprehensive tome at 622 pages, with plates, illustrations, maps, bibliographical references, and index. Includes several chapters on James’s religious thought, including one on The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Compare and Contrast

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

1910s: Buddhism becomes popular in the West. Zen Buddhism is spread through the presentations of Japanese Zen leader D. T. Suzuki....

(The entire section is 191 words.)

Topics for Further Study

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James did not put a lot of faith in organized religion, but rather in the personal experience of religious inspiration. Focus on his...

(The entire section is 261 words.)

Media Adaptations

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An audiotape of James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, narrated by Flo Gibson and published in 2001, is available from Audio...

(The entire section is 35 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

A reading of Bruce Kuklick’s collection William James: Writings 1902–1910 (1988) offers a comprehensive understanding of the range...

(The entire section is 322 words.)