- Bostonians (Barnes & Noble classics)
- Henry James
- Barnes Noble Classics
Nearly a century before the birth of the contemporary feminist movement, Henry James dealt with its nineteenth-century forerunner in The Bostonians. Mixing acute social observation and psychological analysis with mordant humor, James hangs his story on a unique instance of the traditional romantic triangle. At its apex stands the vibrantly beautiful Verena Tarrant, an intense public speaker who arouses the passions of two very different people. Olive Chancellor, a Boston-bred suffragette, dreams of turning Verena into a fiery campaigner for women’s rights. Basil Ransom, a Mississippi-bred lawyer, dreams of turning her into his wife. As these two struggle for possession of Verena’s souland bodytheir confusions, crises, and conflicts begin almost preternaturally to prefigure today’s sexual politics. In fact, James’s complex portrait of Olive and her ideals, savagely satirical yet sympathetic and so controversial when it first appeared, continues to evoke both anger and admiration. But he treats Verena and Basil with equal complexity, climaxed by the novel’s quietly haunting final sentence.