Sheldon Novick on Henry James, American Women, & Gilded-Age Fiction

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The Learning Curve Sheldon Novick

[00:00:00] Albert Cheng: Well, hello everybody! This is Professor Albert Cheng coming to you from the University of Arkansas with another episode of the Learning Curve podcast. And with me co-hosting this week is DEFR’s Alisha Searcy. What’s up, Alisha? How’s it going?

[00:00:36] Alisha Searcy: Hello, Professor. Wonderful. How are things going with you?

[00:00:39] Albert Cheng: Oh, pretty good. Summer’s in full swing here. And yourself?

[00:00:43] Alisha Searcy: It is in full swing. Work is going well, and I took a little time, sort of, to go on a cruise the last seven days through Alaska and a little stop in Canada. So that was a beautiful sight to see, looking at Glacier Bay and a few black bears and all that. All kinds of other beautiful sites in that part of the country and world.

[00:01:06] Albert Cheng: That’s cool. That’s jogging a few memories here in my mind. I remember going on one for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary many years ago, so great to hear you got a little taste of that as well.

[00:01:18] Alisha Searcy: Yeah, it was beautiful. I will say, though, that I’m happy to be back in hotlanta.

[00:01:23] Albert Cheng: Ah, okay. Well, hotlanta and back into the normal swing of things, I guess.  Or, I don’t know, maybe we should think of cruising as normal, but normal, you know what I mean? Just not wearing a coat and hat in  June.

[00:01:36] Alisha Searcy: That’s right, that’s right.

[00:01:37] Albert Cheng: And speaking of other things in our usual day to day lives, hey, why don’t we talk some news, Alisha? Yes. You know, I think a couple shows ago, we were talking about cell phone policies in schools.

[00:01:51] I don’t even know when we were talking about it, but I know everyone’s talking about it these days. And so, I wanted to flag today, an article from USA Today, which provides kind of a nice summary of some of what’s going on. Across different states and state legislatures, in terms of cell phone policy, I think some of our listeners know last year, Florida became the first state that required public schools to ban students from using phones in class.

[00:02:17] But lawmakers in a few other states are entertaining similar kinds of legislation. So, this article, for instance, lists Indiana and Ohio, where there are similar bills that are being signed that requires districts to limit cell phone use during class time. And, and lots of other states have introduced legislation like that.

[00:02:37] So, for those of you who are paying attention to cell phone policy, take a look at that article. I know it’s certainly a pressing issue as we figure out how to navigate technology and cell phone use and how do we balance the value that technology can use, but also how do we moderate and protect kids against, you know, some of the downsides, whether it’s cyber bullying or misuse of technology in other ways like that.

[00:03:03] Alisha Searcy: Yeah, it’s a really important article, really important conversation. And Albert, I have to tell you, I probably fall on the opposite side of this position. I completely understand, and I’m a former superintendent, so I get it. From a safety standpoint, when you talk about You talk about social media, you talk about how distracted kids can be when they’re on their phones in school.

[00:03:26] But at the same time, I wonder in this digital age that we are in, you know, how as adults we can’t go an hour without checking our phones. Somehow, we’re expecting kids to go all day in a seven, eight hour school setting without using that level of technology. And so it seems to me that We should be moving in the other direction where we’re trying to find ways to incorporate phones as a part of the educational experience.

[00:03:56] I know that I’m in the minority on this, but I just, it’s odd to me. And I also think as a parent, you know, I have a 17-year-old rising senior and I like being able to text her during the day. Now, sometimes she’s not going to be completely responsive because she’s in class, right? But if I need her, if there’s an emergency these days of, you know, you’ve got.

[00:04:19] School shootings and all these things. I also worry about the safety factor here if you don’t have access to your kids like that. So, I’m interested in these conversations to see how they go. And I think you made a great point when you talk about the balance of it all. And I’d like to see a more balanced approach on this issue.

[00:04:35] Albert Cheng: Yeah. And I think, you know, you’re on to something about the safety thing, right? I mean, we care about our kid’s physical safety and certainly cell phone use is You know, helps us to do that in particular ways. And then, you know, I guess the folks who are maybe in favor of these policies, particularly on the social media side, are more worried about online safety.

[00:04:55] And so, yeah, I guess safety is this unifying thing. How do we strike that balance? So, tough thing to balance and it is so hopefully we can figure something out.

[00:05:05] Alisha Searcy: Exactly. But I’m glad you brought that up. My article comes from Real Clear Education. It’s entitled, Sending Your Child to a Better School Shouldn’t Be a Crime.

[00:05:15] And it’s written by a friend of our show, Derrell Bradford and Erica Jedynak, it looks like. Sorry if I butchered your name. And so, this article talks about, of course, this age-old issue that we’ve all heard about over the years where people, you know, parents in particular to have access to public school choice in particular, but in many states they don’t based on their zip code.

[00:05:38] And even a step further, as this article is pointing out, that parents like Kelly William Bowler, if people remember in 2011 in Ohio, she literally was sent to jail. Because she used her father’s address to send her daughters to school. Now, the daughters happened to spend a lot of time there. It could certainly be argued that they lived with him, but in the eyes of the school district, in the eyes of the law, that was not permissible.

[00:06:06] And so here’s a mom trying to get her kids a high-quality public education, who is sent to jail. for using someone else’s address. And so, there’s this coalition that’s been formed with Durell and several other organizations entitled No More Lines Coalition. And it’s all about, just as it says, getting rid of these district lines.

[00:06:29] And I think what’s important in this article it is talks about where these lines come from. These are historic in nature, right, in terms of redlining, in terms of racism, frankly. I mean, we just have to call it what it is, and how communities were separated based on color, socioeconomic status, etc. And then we know that that has a direct impact on public education.

[00:06:53] And so I’m happy to see this coalition. DEFER is actually a part of it as well. I just think we have to have these tough conversations in states where your zip code is, in some cases, a sentence to not getting a high-quality public education, and we all know what happens. When you are educated, right, we know the economic impact, we know the social impact.

[00:07:15] And so kudos to the folks who wrote this article who are doing this work. This is personal for me because in the neighborhood that I grew up in South Florida, there were decent schools, but my mom in particular wanted us to go to high quality schools, my brother and I. And so my parents drove us to school and we got a great education and I would not be here if it were not for my high quality public education.

[00:07:41] And so I feel very strongly about it that we’ve got to get rid of these lines, allow parents to have access to public options that meet the needs of their children.

[00:07:50] Albert Cheng: Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting. The article brought up, I mean, you mentioned a Kelly Williams Bowler, her case in Ohio in 2011. I remember that was my first eye-opening news article that kind of got me into, I mean, I was already into school choice then, but just, It’s only beginning and I think seeing that really opened my eyes really back in the day when right, you know, before I just, I was just starting grad school then.

[00:08:12] And so we’ve been at this for way too long. And so glad to see that coalition founded and hopefully we can get some more work done.

[00:08:20] Alisha Searcy: Absolutely.

[00:08:21] Albert Cheng: Thanks for sharing that, Alisha. And stay safe. Stick with us, we’re about to hit our break, but coming up, after that, we’re going to have Sheldon Novick, who’s going to talk to us about Henry James.

[00:08:43] Sheldon Novick is the author of the two-volume biography Henry James, The Young Master, and Henry James, The Mature Master. As well as Honorable Justice, the life of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the editor of the Collected Works of Justice Holmes. Sheldon Novick, it’s a pleasure to have you on the Learning Curve podcast.

[00:09:04] Welcome to the show.

[00:09:06] Sheldon Novick: Thank you very much. Pleasure to be here.

[00:09:09] Albert Cheng: I think a lot of listeners might not know you. I don’t know exactly who Henry James is, so let’s start there. You’re the biographer of Henry James, the celebrated 19th century novelist. Begin by briefly sharing just the wider picture of who he was and why he’s such a timelessly important author.

[00:09:27] Sheldon Novick: He’s a very celebrated figure, partly because he was born into a family of celebrities and they were close friends with the very celebrated Oliver Wendell Holmes family, and so Henry James was the second child of five. He had a career as a writer. We remember him now as a novelist primarily, so that kind of distorts the life history.

[00:10:03] He was a freelance writer who made his Living as a writer, and so he was, although we don’t think of him this way, he was a businessman, he was writing for money, and did pretty well, and was unusual, and much celebrated by other serious writers, because he managed to make a living writing serious literature.

[00:10:35] Although it wasn’t all literary, he began really as a journalist, and we can talk about the phases of his life as we go along, and I’m not going to try to summarize that now.

[00:10:51] Albert Cheng: Well, speaking of phases, I mean, why don’t we get into the beginnings, his family, so, I mean, there’s just some things we know, I, I mean, uh, you know, looking at my notes here, I mean, they’re the James family, they were New Yorkers who made their fortune from business dealings around the early 1800s due to the construction of the Erie Canal.

[00:11:10] Henry James Sr. was an American theologian. I think many folks might know his brother well, William James, the Harvard philosopher and psychologist. Maybe they know his sister, Alice James, the noted diarist. Yes, tell us about his family and just his early life.

[00:11:26] Sheldon Novick: Well, it was a celebrated family, and of course that is Commonly, the relations who are remembered.

[00:11:34] He was, from his own perspective, and I did try to write his life story as he kind of narrated it as he went along, and he wrote an autobiography and a lot of autobiographical fiction. So, viewing his life as an old man, which is the story we have, looking back on it, he was, he was the second of five children who all lived to maturity and which was a considerable accomplishment of his mother’s, who was a very strong, strong minded and powerful and healthy woman who really provided his early education.

[00:12:21] The famous father was a deeply troubled man who was kind of a scandalous beatnik of his time. He wrote about free love and I think we would consider him an abusive parent, an abusive person now. But Henry, Henry grew up with the ambition of being a writer early on. And as I say, he began as a journalist. But he gradually added different genres as he went along.

[00:12:57] Albert Cheng: Let’s talk a bit about his writing and kind of get into that. As you mentioned, I mean, he’s a remarkably prolific and complex writer. His works span many genres, as you’ve alluded to. And so he wrote for 51 years, 20 novels, 112 short stories, and 12 plays, several volumes on travel and criticism, and lots of, Literary journalism.

[00:13:19] Could you talk about his ability to write widely and realistically? I mean, especially about, you know, wealthy American women and tension with the Gilded Age, American and European societies. I think that’s a big theme, right?

[00:13:31] Sheldon Novick: Absolutely. And you’re asking me to summarize a career, which is indeed extraordinarily varied. And for a writer, he has a real Life biography, which literary biographies are uniformly boring because writers are boring, you know.

[00:13:57] Sheldon Novick: They do their work sitting alone in a room. And Henry James was the compulsive writer. And you recite all of these alarming numbers. Not only did he write these enormous quantities for publication, but then he would sit up late at night writing letters.

[00:14:16] And the letters have all been collected and are available. And so you can read him narrating his life as he goes along. And I’m not going to try to summarize that, except to say overall that He was determined to be a realistic writer, which means that he wanted to have a life, and his notion of realism was sensory experience.

[00:14:48] He wanted to experience things, and his writing is a visual experience. Extraordinarily vivid and realistic because he’s drawing on his sensory memories, the smell of, the smell of London, you know, it’s just the sulfur smoke and the coal smoke and the wet, the constantly wet woolen clothing. So, you have a man writing realism in that sense and he writes.

[00:15:23] About women of the middle class, his family were, were well to do, they weren’t wealthy, it was old money, the father kind of wasted it away in crazy investments, and so Henry had to work for a living, and he supported his younger siblings.

[00:15:45] Albert Cheng: Let’s get into a little bit more detail. I mean, you mentioned just a lot of his inspiration and, you know, the source material was his own experience.

[00:15:52] And so let’s get into that with some of his specific novels. The Portrait of a Lady, published in 1881, is set in Europe. And it’s a story of an American woman, Isabelle Archer, who inherits a fortune. So, you see some, I guess, some links there to his own life. But this character, Isabelle Archer, is overwhelmed by two scheming suitors while searching for her own destiny.

[00:16:15] How did James’s own life and his travel inform his understanding of the differences between America and Europe to kind of enable him to write such a novel.

[00:16:26] Sheldon Novick: Okay, well then there’s a man who has grown up, his family was peripatetic, the father dragged them around from place to place. I think it’s important that he didn’t have a settled life in any one place for much of their life.

[00:16:49] As a family, the father dropped them in seaside resorts in France, while he went off about his own business. At other times, they were in various locations in New England and New York and Great Britain. So what’s extraordinary about him, I think, is that He is a genius of language, and he learned not just all these national languages, but he learned the, the dialects and the, the body language and the ways in which people dressed and expressed themselves and related to each other in all these different cultures.

[00:17:37] And The Portrait of a Lady is really what was meant to be the first of his novels. He had been writing, he was writing for newspapers, he was a journalist reporting from Paris to newspapers in New York, but he wanted to write A novel of a particular kind. Novels were, were written by and for women. At least these kinds of literary novels in, published in two or three hardbound volumes.

[00:18:14] That was a whole industry by itself. And so, The Portrait of a Lady, and just think about that title. This is his novel about middle class women for middle class women, and it’s about, it’s about marriage.

[00:18:34] Albert Cheng: So, let’s keep hammering on this theme with another, I mean, just the relation between, you know, his life and what was going on.

[00:18:41] Just to bring up another novel and talk about this, The Bostonians, published in 1886. Now this novel centers on an unusual love triangle and struggle between Basil Ransom, a conservative from Mississippi, and then Olive Chancellor, who is Ransom’s cousin and a Boston feminist. And then there’s a third character, Verena Tarrant, a pretty young protégé of Olive’s, who’s in the feminist movement.

[00:19:06] So you’ve got these colorful characters with colorful backgrounds. Yeah. Could, could you say a few things about this story in relation to the context of Henry James’s life and era?

[00:19:17] Sheldon Novick: Yeah, well, context is very important. This is Boston after the Civil War, and the truth is, Henry James didn’t know a lot about Boston, but he had been there for a time after the Civil War, and that was when he made his adolescent friendships, especially with Oliver Wendell Holmes, the future justice of the Supreme Court.

[00:19:46] And so this novel about the Bostonians is about these intense same sex friendships that adolescents formed then and now, and the triangle forms when a person of the opposite sex lures one of the friends off into. Well, there’s a lot of them off. It’s a triangle, as you say, but it’s a very particular one that, and that’s a theme that a plot that reappears constantly throughout his early, because you, we find it in his early short stories in that early phase when he’s writing briefly about adolescent friendships because he’s just.

[00:20:36] He’s just emerging from adolescence, that’s what he’s writing about. You will see that in all of his fiction, you will see that triangle.

[00:20:47] Alisha Searcy: This has been very fascinating, thanks for joining us. I want to ask you about Edith Wharton. She’s an American who wrote books. about upper class New York and became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction.

[00:21:01] And Henry James, of course, and Wharton were close friends. Can you talk about their friendship between these two literary giants?

[00:21:07] Sheldon Novick: Yes, they were very good friends, and they were both very good at friendship and Henry James made a point. Of being emotionally present and he had learned in France to be masculine in appearance and dress and speech and he was very, he was kind of a little bit domineering.

[00:21:32] He was a big stout guy with a heavy beard. And he looked like a ship’s captain, kind of a bear of a man, but very, very friendly and emotionally open. And as I say, he just was very important to him to live on a daily basis. moment by moment basis to experience his relationships with people in a sensory way.

[00:22:03] So they were very good friends, Wharton was rich, James lived on his earnings, but Wharton was wealthy. And had a very unhappy marriage. Uh, she began to live on her own in Europe and Henry could introduce her into that world. And she in turn could drive him well. And she had a chauffeur and an automobile, which was a new thing.

[00:22:33] They would drive around the French countryside together. And that was really, they didn’t care about each other’s work very much, and didn’t care for it, at least in the later things. Wharton liked The Portrait of a Lady, which, well, was about her world. And James was not too fond of her novels.

[00:22:59] Alisha Searcy: Isn’t that interesting? Yeah. I thought you were going to say the opposite, that perhaps some of his writing about women was influenced by her.

[00:23:09] Sheldon Novick: Well, he, you know, they were both pretty well along by then and they didn’t influence each other, and they had very different languages and lifestyles, but the thing they had in common and this might interest you more than these other things, Henry James didn’t have a college education.

[00:23:31] At the time, it was a condition, you know, for men who Wanted to be treated as gentlemen and treated as authors to have the classical education that was modeled at Oxford and Harvard, which begins by learning to write Latin poetry and to translate it and immersion in the Latin and Greek classics.

[00:24:00] Neither Henry James nor Edith Wharton had that sort of education and they both missed it. And it was really required, and professors of literature and critics in England and America simply refused to take Henry James seriously because he lacked classical education. But he was extremely well educated, self-educated partly, but partly, he had grown up in this very cosmopolitan family of philosophers and lived all over Europe so that he could introduce Wharton to the, the learning and the culture of Europe.

[00:24:48] But they, they both were criticized and not taken seriously. as seriously as they ought to have been by the professors of then and now.

[00:25:02] Alisha Searcy: Very interesting. So, you mentioned a few minutes ago that Henry James lived off of his income. Let’s talk about the novel The Wings of the Dove from 1902 that tells the story of Millie Thiel, an American heiress, stricken with a fatal disease.

[00:25:18] And Kay Densher are London lovers who desperately want to marry but have little money and befriend Millie with the design of her leaving them enough money to be together. So, could you talk about Henry James’s life and his experiences that perhaps informed this fiction?

[00:25:37] Sheldon Novick: You need to keep your eye on that triangle.

[00:25:41] There are two women and a man in that one and the storm the plot is about a marriage. The Wings of the Dove is, again, filled with descriptions of people he knew, and there was a wealthy woman, his hostess in Venice was a wealthy woman, and this is kind of the story of her venture into Europe. And she is a Bostonian as well.

[00:26:13] Alisha Searcy: I’m definitely seeing the themes when you talk about this triangle. So, let’s talk about The Golden Bowl from 1904, which is a novel from the major phase of Henry James’s literary career. Set in England, it’s a complex study of marriage and adultery, and the relationships between a father and a daughter, and their respective spouses. Let’s talk about that novel, and the events in Henry James’s life that inform this masterpiece. Peace.

[00:26:39] Sheldon Novick: It is the last of his published novels, so it’s considered a kind of pinnacle, and it is really a magnificent work. This is an old man writing from a lifetime of experience, and he has by this time invented a way of expressing himself that embodies all of these Sensory memories and emotional history, so that it’s not exactly difficult reading, but it’s not the kind of reading that one is used to.

[00:27:16] But I want to focus on the title. The Golden Bowl, this is actually one of two late novels. The Golden Bowl and The Ivory Tower are complementary, and as you might think, The Golden Bowl is about The Friendship Between Two Women and The Ivory Tower is about a similar intense, intense, sensual friendship between men.

[00:27:47] And, you know, in our post Freudian age, we, you know, kind of snicker at these. But these references are intended. The golden bowl is the crystal bowl that’s gilded, covered with gold, but the importance of it is that there is a flaw in the crystal, and when it’s dropped, it shatters. And so, this is the image of the friendship between the two principal women characters, their friendship is broken when one of them is lured off into marriage.

[00:28:29] Alisha Searcy: Excellent. This has been great. I’ve got one final question for you before I ask you to read an excerpt from one of your books. So, we’ve talked about this sensory writing, which I think is beautiful. It’s very fascinating and I think it helps us all connect and really take you there as the reader. And so, I think it’s safe to say that Henry James has widely influenced modern fiction by showing and not telling his stories to the reader. And so would you tell us what you think teachers and students alike should remember most when you think about his life and literary career?

[00:29:04] Sheldon Novick: Let me say that the novel that Henry James thought was his best, and that he recommended to people, was The Ambassadors, which was the first of these late novels that are, we talk about his major phase, the Ambassadors embodies is.

[00:29:25] His new way of writing as someone who is personally present. One of the things that is important about the Ambassadors is that he succeeds in writing about People as individuals without labeling them, so that he using these devices of his own sensory memories, and they are real memories of real people, he can characterize these characters as unique individuals.

[00:30:03] Who have an inner life, who have a public character, and he describes the way they live in the world as unique individuals, and the friendships, and the love affairs, and the marriages, that each one is unique. Anyway, so that’s, that’s something I, I would say about how to remember Henry James. It is certainly true of the Golden Bowl as well. I would say those things about it.

[00:30:33] Alisha Searcy: I like that. I think that’s very important to remember for students and for teachers. So, thank you for that. As we close, Mr. Novick, we would love for you to read perhaps your favorite paragraph length passage from the Henry James biography to close out this interview.

[00:30:49] Sheldon Novick: Okay. Uh, yes. So let me read a brief passage. Well, a paragraph of mine, and then it’s followed by a little bit of Henry James. This is a passage from the Ambassadors. Which I take it is Henry James is recommending to us for this purpose. We won’t recognize the names of the characters, but it doesn’t matter.

[00:31:13] Madame de Vionette’s love for Chad is palpable. It is James owned. Reading. We feel it and share it. Temporal and spatial elements. Theory and experiment. Melody and harmony. Story and picture. Fuse beautifully as in the imagery of a poem. Sentences dissolve in the intensity of James remembrance. Punctuation and ordinary syntax drop away.

[00:31:44] The sentence, indeed, is no longer the unit with which James works. He makes impressionistic images rather than statements. Patiently creates a poem. Moments that seem to belong to the reader’s own memories. Shadows are not black but are infused with color. Double negatives take the place of their assertions.

[00:32:07] Each quality that is denied adds a dimension to one that is affirmed. Strether, quote, was not wholly disconcerted. His relation to his errand might prove none of the simplest. There was a detachment in his zeal and curiosity in his indifference. Close quote. Lambert Strether’s half puzzled, half surprised joy in the moment is not so much seen as felt.

[00:32:39] And here’s Henry James, a brief paragraph, how could he wish it to be lucid for others, for anyone, that he, for the hour, saw reasons enough in the near way the bright, clean ordered, water shy life came in at the open window. The near way Madame de Vionette opposite him over their intensely white table linen, their omelette au tomate, their bottle of straw colored Chablis, thanked him for everything, almost with the smile of a child, while her gray eyes moved in and out of their talk back to the quarter of the spring air in which early summer had already begun to throb, and then back again to his face and their human questions.

[00:33:37] Alisha Searcy: Absolutely wonderful.

[00:33:39] Sheldon Novick: I will stop there. Thank you.

[00:33:41] Alisha Searcy: That was awesome. Thank you. I loved your energy, the way it just picked up as you were reading. Absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much.

[00:33:50] Sheldon Novick: You are very welcome. It’s a pleasure.

[00:34:04] Albert Cheng: Well, that was a great interview. I actually didn’t know much about Henry James. I knew much more about his brother, William James. For those of you who are into education philosophy, you know he’s a major contributor to, or really actually a pioneer in educational psychology. So, it was great to hear more about Henry James this time around.

[00:34:21] That’s going to bring us to the end of our show. But first, the tweet of the week comes this week from Marguerite Rosa, and she has tweeted about an article from the Los Angeles Times about a fine that the state of California has imposed on Los Angeles Unified School District. So, I know, Alisha, you were talking about how folks got thrown into prison for crossing district lines.

[00:34:45] And trying to enroll their children in a better school, public school. Well, I don’t know if you’ve paid attention to this one, but LA Unified has gotten fined about 8 million for having class sizes in their transitional kindergarten classrooms that are too high. And so, this, I think, really underscores another challenge.

[00:35:03] I mean, you know, we want to provide reasonable class sizes, really, especially at that really young age. Age, you know, transitional kindergarten, four-year-olds, five-year-olds. And, and you want to make this opportunity a little bit more widely available for parents that want it. And, yeah, it’s kind of tough too.

[00:35:20] Meet that demand and while at the same time, you know, trying to meet all parents needs while at the same time trying to abide by certain state policies that cap class sizes. And now LA Unified is getting fined for this. So I’m sure there’s way more to the story, but check out that news article.

[00:35:36] Alisha Searcy: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Marguerite Rosa, and I think anybody who listens to us, and you have an opportunity to participate in one of her courses that she does through Georgetown, you should absolutely do it.

[00:35:47] She’s one of the most brilliant and both common sense people that I’ve ever heard from listen to study. And so anyway, her point in this is the 8 million that the district has to spend could also be used to benefit students. So to your point, Albert, it’s one of those things that the policy has to be in place because districts need to do right by kids. At the same time, do the policies make sense for the kids?

[00:36:12] Albert Cheng: Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, I don’t, I don’t know how to cut that Gordian knot, unfortunately.

[00:36:17] Alisha Searcy: Yeah.

[00:36:17] Albert Cheng: Hopefully we’ll figure it out and Alisha, thanks a lot for being a co-host again this week. Great to have you here.

[00:36:23] Alisha Searcy: Always great to be with y’all. We’re a good show.

[00:36:25] Albert Cheng: All right. And make sure you join us next week. We’re going to have Eva Moskowitz, the CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and author of A Plus Parenting, The Surprisingly Fun Guide to Raising Surprisingly Smart Kids. So, you’ll want to join us next week for that conversation, but until then, be well, everyone, and we’ll see you soon.

[00:36:47] Alisha Searcy: Take care.

This week on The Learning Curve co-hosts U-Arkansas Prof. Albert Cheng and DFER’s Alisha Searcy interview Henry James biographer Sheldon Novick. Mr. Novick discusses the complexities of Henry James’ life and writing career, highlighting his significant literary contributions, the influence of his family’s intellectual legacy, and the realistic portrayal of social tensions in his works. Novick explores Henry James’ life experiences that shaped his novels like The Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl. He shared more on James’ important friendships, particularly with the novelist Edith Wharton, emphasizing James’ enduring influence on modern fiction. In closing, Novick reads a passage from his biography Henry James.

Stories of the Week: Albert shared an article from USA Today discussing state cell phone bans in schools; Alisha reviewed an article from Real Clear Education about how parents picking their children’s schools shouldn’t be a crime.


Sheldon Novick is the author of the two-volume biography, Henry James: The Young Master and Henry James: The Mature Master; as well as Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes; and the editor of The Collected Works of Justice Holmes.




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