William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism

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The definitive biography of the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion—on modernism itself.

Often cited as the “father of American psychology,” William James was an intellectual luminary who made significant contributions to at least five fields: psychology, philosophy, religious studies, teaching, and literature.
 
A member of one of the most unusual and notable of American families, James struggled to achieve greatness amid the brilliance of his theologian father; his brother, the novelist Henry James; and his sister, Alice James. After studying medicine, he ultimately realized that his true interests lay in philosophy and psychology, a choice that guided his storied career at Harvard, where he taught some of America’s greatest minds. But it is James’s contributions to intellectual study that reveal the true complexity of man.
 
In this biography that seeks to understand James’s life through his work—including Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Pragmatism—Robert D. Richardson has crafted an exceptionally insightful work that explores the mind of a genius, resulting in “a gripping and often inspiring story of intellectual and spiritual adventure” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
“A magnificent biography.” —The Washington Post
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About the author

Robert D. Richardson is the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire. He is the recipient of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, among many other honors.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Sep 14, 2007
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Pages
656
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ISBN
9780547526737
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Educators
Biography & Autobiography / Philosophers
Biography & Autobiography / Social Scientists & Psychologists
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Robert D. Richardson
Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” and “Persian Poetry,” less well known are the many pages in his private journals devoted to the relationship between writing and reading. Here, for the first time, is the Concord Sage’s energetic, exuberant, and unconventional advice on the idea of writing, focused and distilled by the preeminent Emerson biographer at work today.

Emerson advised that “the way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” First We Read, Then We Write contains numerous such surprises—from “every word we speak is million-faced” to “talent alone cannot make a writer”—but it is no mere collection of aphorisms and exhortations. Instead, in Robert Richardson’s hands, the biographical and historical context in which Emerson worked becomes clear. Emerson’s advice grew from his personal experience; in practically every moment of his adult life he was either preparing to write, trying to write, or writing. Richardson shows us an Emerson who is no granite bust but instead is a fully fleshed, creative person disarmingly willing to confront his own failures. Emerson urges his readers to try anything—strategies, tricks, makeshifts—speaking not only of the nuts and bolts of writing but also of the grain and sinew of his determination. Whether a writer by trade or a novice, every reader will find something to treasure in this volume. Fearlessly wrestling with “the birthing stage of art,” Emerson’s counsel on being a reader and writer will be read and reread for years to come.
Major Robert D. Richardson
Illustrated with 23 maps and plans of the campaign and engagements at Chickamauga.
Probably the most unpredictable variable in the "Fog of War" next to leadership, is the command and control process, comprised of three components: organizations, process, and facilities. Organizations include the formulation of staffs by the commander to accomplish the mission. Incorporated in the organization of the staffs are the roles, responsibilities, and functions. Large Civil War armies like the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Tennessee required significant numbers of staff officers to support the armies logistically and to maneuver them operationally. During the Campaign and Battle of Chickamauga, these staff officers often played major roles and were instrumental in determining the outcome of the battle. The roles and functions performed by these staff officers evolved through the history of conflict. This study is an analysis of the roles, responsibilities, and functions of General Rosecrans’ staff prior to and during the Chickamauga campaign, using lessons learned in comparison to current Army doctrine on command and control. Primary sources for staff information on the Army of the Cumberland are the Official Records and actual telegrams from the staffs during this period. Doctrinal manuals on senior level staffs did not exist; therefore, these staffs were composites of regimental and War Department staff positions and ad hoc positions. The study uses evolving doctrine from Command and General Staff College that defines an outstanding staff as one that informs, anticipates, coordinates and executes the commander’s guidance with enthusiasm and innovation. This study concludes that Rosecrans’ staff was significant to the outcome of the Battle of Chickamauga. Although none of the staff functions developed critical deficiencies during the campaign, their inability to relieve the commander of administrative burdens compelled him to abandon the battlefield.
Robert D. Richardson Jr.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of the most important figures in the history of American thought, religion, and literature. The vitality of his writings and the unsettling power of his example continue to influence us more than a hundred years after his death. Now Robert D. Richardson Jr. brings to life an Emerson very different from the old stereotype of the passionless Sage of Concord. Drawing on a vast amount of new material, including correspondence among the Emerson brothers, Richardson gives us a rewarding intellectual biography that is also a portrait of the whole man.

These pages present a young suitor, a grief-stricken widower, an affectionate father, and a man with an abiding genius for friendship. The great spokesman for individualism and self-reliance turns out to have been a good neighbor, an activist citizen, a loyal brother. Here is an Emerson who knew how to laugh, who was self-doubting as well as self-reliant, and who became the greatest intellectual adventurer of his age.

Richardson has, as much as possible, let Emerson speak for himself through his published works, his many journals and notebooks, his letters, his reported conversations. This is not merely a study of Emerson's writing and his influence on others; it is Emerson's life as he experienced it. We see the failed minister, the struggling writer, the political reformer, the poetic liberator.

The Emerson of this book not only influenced Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Dickinson, and Frost, he also inspired Nietzsche, William James, Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Jorge Luis Borges. Emerson's timeliness is persistent and striking: his insistence that literature and science are not separate cultures, his emphasis on the worth of every individual, his respect for nature.

Richardson gives careful attention to the enormous range of Emerson's readings—from Persian poets to George Sand—and to his many friendships and personal encounters—from Mary Moody Emerson to the Cherokee chiefs in Boston—evoking both the man and the times in which he lived. Throughout this book, Emerson's unquenchable vitality reaches across the decades, and his hold on us endures.
Robert D. Richardson
Writing was the central passion of Emerson’s life. While his thoughts on the craft are well developed in “The Poet,” “The American Scholar,” Nature, “Goethe,” and “Persian Poetry,” less well known are the many pages in his private journals devoted to the relationship between writing and reading. Here, for the first time, is the Concord Sage’s energetic, exuberant, and unconventional advice on the idea of writing, focused and distilled by the preeminent Emerson biographer at work today.

Emerson advised that “the way to write is to throw your body at the mark when your arrows are spent.” First We Read, Then We Write contains numerous such surprises—from “every word we speak is million-faced” to “talent alone cannot make a writer”—but it is no mere collection of aphorisms and exhortations. Instead, in Robert Richardson’s hands, the biographical and historical context in which Emerson worked becomes clear. Emerson’s advice grew from his personal experience; in practically every moment of his adult life he was either preparing to write, trying to write, or writing. Richardson shows us an Emerson who is no granite bust but instead is a fully fleshed, creative person disarmingly willing to confront his own failures. Emerson urges his readers to try anything—strategies, tricks, makeshifts—speaking not only of the nuts and bolts of writing but also of the grain and sinew of his determination. Whether a writer by trade or a novice, every reader will find something to treasure in this volume. Fearlessly wrestling with “the birthing stage of art,” Emerson’s counsel on being a reader and writer will be read and reread for years to come.
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