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The Bostonians Paperback – Apr 26 2009
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“As devastating in its wit as it is sharp in its social critique of sexual politics. No writer in America had dared the subject before. No one has done it so well since.” —The New Republic --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is set primarily in Boston and somewhat in New York during the 1880's. At the request of his cousin Olive Chancellor, southern lawyer Basil Ransom comes to visit. He accompanies her to a meeting where the young Verena Tarrant speaks wonderfully on women's rights. Olive is so impressed with Verena, she starts what's debatably a lesbian relationship with her, but Ransom is taken with Verena as well and so a struggle begins between the two for Verena's affections.
I think Henry James does an excellent job of giving complete descriptions of each character and you really get a sense of who they are. Olive comes across as rigid and passionate, Verena as young, full of life and curious and Basil as sexist and determined. Basil uses all his ability to wrench Verena from Olive. As I mentioned, the relationship between Verena and Olive is debatable. There are no sex scenes in this novel, but the implication is there. Additionally, I've learned in the class for which I read this novel that many women during this time period engaged in very intense romantic relationships which may or may not be described as sexual.
There are of course other characters such as Verena's parents and other women's rights activists, but the whole focus of the novel is on this struggle for Verena. It wouldn't be completely unfair to say that in some ways nothing much happens in this novel. It's truly a character driven story. There aren't really antagonists and protagonists in the story, but more just people whom all have faults and are just trying to make the right decisions.Read more ›
It is through Olive that Basil Ransom meets Verena Tarrant, the young woman who has left her lower middle-class family to move in with and be molded by Olive. Verena has a tremendous speaking ability which caught Olive's (and the other women's (womyn's?) movement leaders') attention. But ultimately, Verena also catches Basil's attention... not for her feminist diatribes, but for her beauty and the passion of her speeches. Basil is instantly struck by Verena, and from this point onward the plot focuses as Basil attempts to seek out his love interest who is highly guarded by Olive, Verena's parents, and several others.
The dialogue between Olive and her friends with Basil Ransom, is a constant back and forth that is civil on the surface, but boiling with hostility underneath the social niceties. While Basil is always cool and focused as he tracks the object of his love, Olive Chancellor only becomes more paranoid as she sees that she is gradually losing her young charge... to a Southern Neanderthal.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I don't think this is one of his very best works and prefer The Ambassadors and The Portrait of a Lady, but it is interesting and enjoyable nonetheless. Read morePublished on April 11 2004 by James Omni
This is the first James novel I've read, so my high ranking doesn't take into account the relative merits of his novels. Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by Cynthia S. Froning
First off, this is a delicious novel! What's amazing is that to me at least, is that it has no heroes. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2001 by Kevin S. Currie
The astonishing thing about this book -- and a lot of Henry James's writing -- is his insight into the problems of women. Read morePublished on May 2 2001 by Lois
Though James is certainly not known for his sense of humor, he displays a keen sense of satire in this novel. Read morePublished on March 12 1999
The Bostonians is a flawed novel that is better for its faults. James clearly couldn't work out exactly what he was doing with the book, but this uncertainty is its greatest... Read morePublished on Aug. 23 1998
The Bostonians, like James' other novels, deals with the subtleties of human interactions. Olive, who is plainly in love with Verena, may or may not be aware of her own feelings. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 1997 by firstname.lastname@example.org