William James's sexuality revealed in his New York stories, writer claimsBreaking News
James's biographer, Leon Edel, explained his vituperativeness toward New York - so out of character for this master of evasion and indirection - as a reflection of James's dismay at the vast changes he found in the Edenic city of his childhood. But for Colm Toibin, author of "The Master," the acclaimed biographical novel about James published last year, James's anger at the city has another meaning. It reflects his sexual ambivalence, and perhaps offers a clue to the nature of "the obscure hurt" that James claimed he suffered in his youth, which kept him out of the Civil War, but may also have paralyzed him emotionally.
The New York of his boyhood was, James wrote, "an earlier, quieter world, a New York of better manners and better morals and homelier beliefs," a place where he and his brother William could wander free "to stretch our legs and fill our lungs without prejudice."
But then in 1855, when Henry was 12, his father uprooted the family, first to Switzerland, then to Paris, London, Newport, then back again to Europe. For Henry it was a time of dismal upheaval. In a telephone interview from Dublin, Mr. Toibin called it "a very serious psychological break."
Mr. Toibin suggested that the uprooting occurred in a crucial year when James was going through puberty. "Before the move, there was the uncomplicated business of being a child," he said.
Mr. Toibin does not define James as homosexual. His sexuality was complex. "We can say with certainty he was not heterosexual," he said. But the uprooting "caused an area of him to freeze."
comments powered by Disqus
- Ben Carson defends linking gun control to the Holocaust
- Secret CIA Report: Pinochet "Personally Ordered" Washington Car-Bombing
- Mike Huckabee’s 1998 Book Is Full Of Fake Quotes From America’s Founders
- Children should be taught about suffering under the British Empire, Jeremy Corbyn says
- Collateral damage: A brief history of U.S. mistakes at war
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- NC student’s senior thesis selected as top paper sheds light on little-known victory over Jim Crow
- Historian Who Probed Austria’s Nazi Past Begins Sentence for Defrauding State
- Daniel Pipes says we should be worried that immigrants don’t share western values
- Nobel Prize in Literature Awarded to journalist Svetlana Alexievich