View Full Version : Other Fiction James, Henry: the Bostonians, v.1, 30 Jan 2008.


Patricia
01-29-2008, 10:29 PM
From Wikipedia:

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 centers on an odd triangle of characters: Basil Ransom, an unbending political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a zealous Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty protégée of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the contest 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 satirize Olive and her fellow ideologues. Another theme in the book, much discussed recently, is Olive's possible lesbian attraction to Verena. 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.