Review by Choice Review
Few as they are, these 36 letters, which constitute the known extant correspondence between Adams and James, cast remarkable flashes of light upon both men e.g., Adams to James (18 Nov. 1903): "you have written not Story's life, but your own and mine"; James to Adams (19 Nov 1903): "there is a kind of inevitableness in my having made you squirm. . . .The truth is that any retraced story of bourgeois lives. . .throws a chill upon the scene, the time, the subject, the small mapped-out facts. . . ." For all their ties to the past, common friends, and an older America they were very different men. James (1891) noted both Adams's "monotonous disappointed pessimism" and his enviable position as "a man of wealth and leisure, able to satisfy all his curiosities. . . ." But James's curiosity set him apart: in the last letter to Adams he argued against his correspondent's "unmitigated blackness," and urged him to "cultivate" the "interest" of "consciousness" as James himself did, being that "queer monster the artist. . .an inexhaustible sensibility." Monteiro's excellent introduction and notes establish the chronology of the James-Adams friendship and its rich social context. Invaluable to all students of either man and/or his times. J. J. Benardete; Hunter College, CUNY
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Monteiro ( Robert Frost and the New England Renaissance ) here culls from the many volumes of collected letters of James (1843-1916) and Adams (1838-1918) their correspondence to each other: 25 letters from James to Adams, four from James to Adams's wife, Clover, seven from Adams to James. Also included is an appendix cataloguing letters known to have been written but as yet unlocated and, most crucially, a comprehensive preface and footnotes to set the contexts. Although the compilation is clearly an academic exercise, devotees of the two to agree with `their' later writers will take pleasure anew in their elegant prose as the correspondents observe place--James writes from Lamb House in Sussex, the U.S. and the Continent, Adams from his Washington, D.C., home and from Paris--and comment on contemporaries, family and their mutual heritage. Praising James's biography William Wetmore Story and His Friends , Adams bemoans in a 1903 letter that Bostonians of the correspondents' class are ``the same mind . . . Story, Summer, Emerson and Alcott, Lowell and Longfellow . . . and all the rest . . . so you have written not Story's life, but your own and mine,'' then in 1909 observes that ``we are altogether a dilapidated social show, bric-a-brac or old clo' shop.'' By 1911 he is complaining, ``As for the world, I am done with it, and have no relations with it,'' to which James counters, ``I still, in presence of life (or what you deny to be such) have reactions--as many as possible.'' When James died, Adams suffered the loss deeply, for he had ``no one Jamesian to talk to,'' a sentiment readers, too, will feel keenly. Photos. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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