Nedavno je objavljena knjiga Wm & H’ry: Literature, Love, and the Letters between William & Henry James autora J.C. Hallmana u izdanju Iowa University Press. Autor na osnovu prepiske između dva brata, pisca i filozofa, rekonstruiše priču o njihovom odnosu, ne upadajući u zamke romansiranih biografija i njihovih podrazumevanih klišea. Na sajtu magazina Tin House nedavno je objavljen odlomak iz knjiga odakle su preuzeti pojedini redovi.
„Wm tore open H’ry’s letter, read it right there in the post office. That evening, homesick and alone on a Saturday night, he began a reply: “Sweet was your letter & grateful to my eyes.” The first letter of the surviving correspondence contains snippets in French, Latin, and Portuguese, alludes to Shakespeare, reports on a visit to a collection of sculptural casts at the Boston Atheneum, and attests to an absence of “equanimity” (the presence of which, many years later, Wm would count among the defining traits of mysticism). He was nineteen years old.
They wrote often. They wrote letters about reading letters, letters about how much time had passed since they had received a letter, letters that depicted the moment of their composition. Wm’s first letter describes the table on which he writes (round, with a red and black cloth), specifies the number of windows in his room (five), inventories his bookcase (“my little array of printed wisdom covering nearly one of the shelves”), and lists “Drear and Chill Abode” as its return address.
The early letters often express frustration with the inability of words to truly convey experience. Correspondence pales beside conversation. Over the next few years, as Wm and H’ry each completed an initial solo Grand Tour, they cried out for each other’s company.
H’ry, from Lucerne: “I’d give my right hand for an hour’s talk with you.”
H’ry, from Venice, six weeks later: “Among the letters which I found here on my arrival was a most valuable one from you . . . which made me ache to my spirit’s core for half an hour’s talk with you.”
Wm, from Berlin: “What wouldn’t I give to have a good long talk with you all at home.”
Wm, from Dresden, after visiting the Gallery: “I’d give a good deal to import you and hear how some of the things strike you.”
In 1869, Wm advised H’ry, then in Geneva, not to yield to homesickness. “I wish I heard from you oftener,” H’ry had written. Wm told him to pay no mind to ennui, noting that his own “heaviest days were full of instruction.” The same letter opened with a borrowed stanza:
O call my brother back to me,
I cannot play alone
The summer comes with flower & bee
Where is my brother gone?
A few years later, Wm described H’ry as “my in many respects twin bro,” which serves as a fair description of the image he once sketched in the margin of a letter illustrating the proposed sleeping arrangements for H’ry’s then-impending visit to Cambridge: