william and henry james – life (brief)


William James
William James was an original thinker. He wrote The Principles of Psychology (1890), which is one of the most outstanding treaties (notevoli trattati) of physiology, psychology and philosophy . In it James describes the first impressions of the world in a baby’s mind “as one great blooming, buzzing confusion (confusion che si estende e si muove)” and also explores the “the stream of thought” which influenced writers such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and in literature was defined as Stream of consciousness.
William James defines our unconscious as
“A ‘river’ or a ‘stream’ are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described.[…], lets call it the stream of thought, consciousness, or subjective life.”
Together with his parents and his younger brother Henry he travelled a lot around Europe and it is generally thought that Henry was first to use this new technique in his novels .
The Stream of consciousness permits an author to create the illusion that the reader is without sensations and
censored thoughts within a character’s mind before the character has ordered them into any rational form or shape. It derives from Sigmund Freud’s practice of free association.

Henry James was born in New York City in 1843 and was raised in Manhattan. James’s father, a prominent intellectual and social theorist, traveled a great deal to Geneva, Paris, and London, so Henry and his brother, William, accompanied him and virtually grew up in those locations as well.

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