- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay reads the New York Edition Prefaces as a gesture of self-fashioning in the context of Edwardian professionalism, using H.G. Wells and other contemporary sources to establish the importance of training and expertise in Edwardian culture. In particular, it argues for an analogy between the professional ideal of training as an investment in human capital and James's emphasis on the life-long accumulation of impressions. Max Weber's analysis of the Beruf, or calling, identified ascesis as central to the professional ethos, and a similar theme can be found in William James's theory of habit. In light of these sources, James's portrayal of the ascetic, disciplined author can be read as an appropriation of professional rhetoric.