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WILLIAM JAMES AND THE LANGUAGE OF PERSONAL LITERATURE

William R. Brown
Style
Vol. 5, No. 2 (Spring 1971), pp. 151-163
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42945096
Page Count: 13
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WILLIAM JAMES AND THE LANGUAGE OF PERSONAL LITERATURE
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Abstract

The article proposes "personal literature" as a more precise genre designation for most writing presently termed "prose non-fiction," as well as for some other literature, and illustrates this concept from the works of William James. The term acknowledges the presence of the author's mind in literature not circumscribed by a fictitious world but does not imply concern with the author's intention or with his biography. The role of ambiguity in such literature is clarified and redefined. In selected works of William James there is identified an underlying emotional force which through style creates meanings deviant from and even counter to the ostensible scientific purport of the work.

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