Article ID: CBB287432955

“Perplexed in the Extreme”: The Holt–James Controversy of 1902 (2017)


Although William James never again reprised his lectures on psychology for teachers at Harvard, he spent most of the 1890s presenting them throughout the country. For all his complaints about them, this was a fine source of income and he used the opportunity to revise and refine them over the rest of the decade. By the end of the 1890s, he was prepared to put the talks down in book form, and turned to his long-time publisher, Henry Holt. The two men first became acquainted with each other when James agreed to write a volume for Holt’s American Science series. Their relationship, however, did not always result in smooth interactions. The monetary side of the agreement rankled James, and in 1902 more trouble ensued. Holt referred to the events of 1902 as the unhappiest of his professional and personal life. Perhaps to preserve James’s public image, two prominent early biographies (Perry’s [1935] The Thought and Character of William James, and Henry James III’s [1920] Letters of William James) made no mention of the incident. In the final analysis, it is ironic that this little volume, based upon lectures James had initially been reluctant to give, and whose value James had so often downplayed, had caused more than its share of drama. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

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Authors & Contributors
Leary, David E.
Ferreri, Antonio M.
Croce, Paul J.
Cucullu, Lois
Wright, John S
Scandura, Jani
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
History of Psychology
History of the Human Sciences
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
American Journal of Theology and Philosophy
William James Studies
University of Chicago
Lexington Books
Reaktion Books
University of Minnesota
CNRS Éditions
Pragmatism; instrumentalism
Science and religion
Scientific study of religion
Science and literature
James, William
Freud, Sigmund
Stein, Gertrude
Dewey, John
Bion, Wilfred Ruprecht
Tomkins, Silvan Solomon
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
United States

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