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The Bostonians: A Novel (Penguin Classics)

The Bostonians: A Novel (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Henry James , Richard Lansdown
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Description


It is about idealism in a democracy that is still recovering from a civil war bitterly fought for social ideals [written] with a ferocious, precise, detailed and wildly comic realism --A. S. Byatt writes in her Introduction

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

Product Description

Published in 1886, The Bostonians begins with the arrival in Boston of Basil Ransom, a young Mississippi lawyer in search of a career. Through his cousin, Olive Chancellor, Ransom comes to meet Verena, the beautiful daughter of a charlatan faith-healer and showman. When they hear Verena talk, Olive hopes to win the girl over to the feminist cause, Ransom is attracted to her looks, and a battle for possession of the girl begins.

With its discussion of the situation of women and its uncompromising depiction of the city and the media, THE BOSTONIANS is a modern novel which is immediately accessible and relevant today.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 759 KB
  • Print Length: 252 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1438288859
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (14 Aug 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002XHNO9C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #262,620 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Henry James was born in 1843 in Washington Place, New York, of Scottish and Irish ancestry. His father was a prominent theologian and philosopher and his elder brother, William, is also famous as a philosopher. He attended schools in New York and later in London, Paris and Geneva, entering the Law School at Harvard in 1862. In 1865 he began to contribute reviews and short stories to American journals. In 1875, after two prior visits to Europe, he settled for a year in Paris, where he met Flaubert, Turgenev and other literary figures. However, the next year he moved to London, where he became so popular in society that in the winter of 1878-9 he confessed to accepting 107 invitations. In 1898 he left London and went to live at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Henry James became a naturalized citizen in 1915, was awarded the Order of Merit and died in 1916.

In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very 'internal' novel 24 Feb 2003
If the narrative of this novel confined itself to simply reporting external events, it would probably be no more than 50 pages long, rather than the 400+ pages it actually is. Not that this would be as good thing. The self-conscious, ambiguous narration is enough to make literature students (such as myself) jump for joy. The narrator explicitly acknowledges his own presence, and the limits of his knowledge, and immerses the reader in a hall of mirrors, where he dips in and out of characters' consciousnesses, and sometimes reports what characters think that other characters are thinking! The plot revolves around Boston and New York societies, and the spate of reformist groups in the wake of the Civil War - particularly those championing the rights of women. James subtly probes the finer points of the motives of individuals for engaging in or opposing such movements, and succeeds in creating psychologically real characters. The novel is weighty, not something one can dip in and out of, but close reading is extremely rewarding.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Does Sapphism?? 30 Aug 2010
Firstly I should warn anyone reading this Penguin edition, the print is a bit on the small side and may not be easily read by some people, also if you have never read any Henry James before, this isn't the best book to start with.

This tale came out in 1886 in novel form, after first being serialized. The year saw two James novels come out in print, this one and The Princess Casamassima (Classics), neither of them received very flattering reviews and both of them are now referred to as his 'political novels'. This book has always been more popular on this side of the Atlantic whilst the other one has always been more popular in the US. I won't go into details why this is so but looking at the US site for Amazon I see that this book has obviously gained in popularity.

The story itself is very simple, but of course with most of James' tales it is drawn out. Olive Chancellor feels it her duty to invite her cousin, Basil Ransom to visit her in Boston. Going to one of her radical meetings they both come across Verena Tarrant. Basil disapporves of her views and opinions, after all this is a feminist meeting and he has old world values. Olive on the other hand has the same views as Verena. So more or less starts a fight for Verena's heart and soul by these two cousins.

Why this novel has gained much deeper appreciation in later years is because people are more and more realising that Olive is undoubtedly a lesbian. That you can read this between the lines isn't difficult, but that James is even more open in the text is surprising.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An intimate insight into the Bostonian mind 7 Feb 2014
By Alexx
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm writing a book that is partly set in Boston, slightly later than in the film. I knew that Henry James was a writer who is insightful about the nuances of society and so it proved with The Bostonians. Although set in a different period to mine, (1919 post WW1) it was a useful study of how men perceive independent women. Alex Martin, author of Daffodils
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