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Intensely Family
The Inheritance of Family Shame and the Autobiographies of Henry James
Carol Holly

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography

"All future studies of Henry James, in order to be fully effective, must take on the task of confronting the critical mass of the James Family. This is precisely what Carol Holly has done. Intensely Family is original in both the material it covers and the approach it takes; it is thorough and scrupulous in its scholarship, clearly and effectively written."—Martha Banta, University of California, Los Angeles

In 1911, at the age of 68, Henry James began A Small Boy and Others with the intent of writing a memoir of his brother William and other members of his family. Within months, however, James's interest in others was replaced by a desire to trace his personal development. Subsequently, he began a lengthy examination of both his own past and the psychological heritage of the James family in a two-volume autobiography, A Small Boy and Others and Notes of a Son and Brother. Through the process of writing his autobiography, James maintained that "at every step of the process [he was becoming]... more intensely 'family.'"

Documenting the rich connotations of James's phrase "intensely family," Carol Holly examines the shame–based psychology bred by his parents and the impact of that psychology on James's literary career. Interpreting the act of autobiography as a biographical event, Holly also draws on a collection of James's largely unpublished correspondence with his sister–in–law and nephew from the period when he was writing A Small Boy and Notes. She provides a contextual interpretation of the autobiographies and offers a detailed look at the complex emotional life of James the autobiographer.

Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
William L. Andrews, Series Editor

Carol Holly is professor of English at St. Olaf College. She is a member of the editorial board of The Henry James Review and is a past president of the Henry James Society.

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Cover of book is orange with a black and white photo of a man and his son.

October 1995
LC: 94-039661 PS
240 pp. 6 x 9

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