The Bostonians (vol. I and vol. II) -

The Bostonians (vol. I and vol. II)



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The Bostonians is a novel by Henry James, first published as a serial in The Century Magazine in 1885-1886 and then as a book in 1886. This bittersweet tragicomedy centres on an odd triangle of characters: Basil Ransom, a political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty, young protegee of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the struggle between Ransom and Olive for Verena's allegiance and affection, though the novel also includes a wide panorama of political activists, newspaper people, and quirky eccentrics. Unlike much of James' work, The Bostonians deals with explicitly political themes: feminism and the general role of women in society. James was at best ambivalent about the feminist movement, and the early chapters harshly satirise Olive and her fellow ideologues. Another theme in the book, much discussed recently, is Olive's possible lesbian attraction to Verena. (The term Boston marriage, apparently first used here by James, came to connote just such an ambiguous co-habiting long-term relationship between two women.) James is not explicit here, partially due to the conventions of the time. But this vagueness may actually enrich the novel because it creates possible ambiguity about Olive's motives. As Ransom gets closer to winning Verena, he seems to lose at least some of his creator's sympathy. James was rather suspicious of the winners in life who scoop up all the goodies, especially the sexual goodies. He becomes more sympathetic to Olive in the later chapters as she begins to lose Verena. This is especially evident in chapter 39, where Olive experiences a painful recognition of her situation somewhat similar to Isabel Archer's long nighttime meditation in chapter 42 of The Portrait of a Lady. The three central characters are surrounded by a vivid supporting cast of would-be reformers, cynical journalists, and sometimes sinister hangers-on. James shows remarkable ability to create a broad cross-section of American society, which helps refute the charge that he could only handle small, closed-off bits of life. The title refers, not to the people of Boston in general, but to the two characters Olive and Verena, "as they appeared to the mind of Ransom, the southerner, and outsider, looking at them from New York." (

Product code: 9781618958686

ISBN 9781618958686
Dimensions (HxWxD in mm) H229xW152xS22
No. Of Pages 318
Publisher Bibliotech Press