Henry James has written an American novel with a slate of
all-American post-Civil War performers: abolitionists,
transcendentalists, professional reformers, political zealots,
ill-advised innocents. James still uses themes of the misuse of
others and the desire to control them as the cardinal sin of all
relationships. This story is also a chivalric tale of traditional
society as enacted by Basil Ransom, an unreconstructed Southern
intellectual from post-Civil War Mississippi. He travels north to
Boston and meets Olive Chancellor who is a talented young woman
brought up to join in the battle of equal rights for women. Olive
has an innocent female friend, Verena, who has committed herself to
the 'Cause' and admires Olive for her ability to speak eloquently
in public circumstances. Both Olive and Basil are trying to save
Verena for their own selfish reasons. James employs many different
methods to present their reasons: a caricature of American life in
the new industrial time after the Civil War, a fable whose hero is
a defender of the family, a sociological introduction to the
suffrage movement. The skirmishes become more personal to the
characters and more specific to their situations as they explore
the justifications for their beliefs. "The Bostonians" is a history
as compelling and romantic as such an emotionally conflicted
representation can offer. Please Note: This book is easy to read in
true text, not scanned images that can sometimes be difficult to
decipher. The Microsoft eBook has a contents page linked to the
chapter headings for easy navigation. The Adobe eBook has bookmarks
at chapter headings and is printable up to two full copies per
year. Both versions are text searchable.
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