|Author/Contributor(s):||James, Alice ; Yeazell, Ruth|
Full of acerbic insights on English life and manners, Alice James' diaries have made her a feminist icon
Alice James (1848-92) was the sister of Henry and William James, as literary as her more famous brothers, but--as was typical for a Victorian woman--never formally educated and thus deprived of any opportunity for a normal "career." In her introductory biographical essay, Professor Ruth Bernard Yeazell of Yale University argues that Alice James instead made a career of her lifelong neurasthenic illness and anticipation of death. In this selection of letters, many written from the invalid's bed, one finds Alice James witty and lyrical, but always deeply morbid: an artist of the deathbed, reminiscent of Kafka's fictional Hunger Artist. Susan Sontag was inspired by this book to write her play, Alice in Bed, and critic Elaine Showalter has said that The Death and Letters of Alice James is "a book everyone interested in women's history and literature will want."