MP3 Audio Sample
Dealing heavily with the then very timely political issue of feminism and the changing role of women in society, Henry James's The Bostonians is the story of Civil War veteran Basil Ransom's conflict with his cousin Olive Chancellor for the allegiance and affection of Boston feminist Verena Tarrant.
From Boston's social underworld emerges Verena Tarrant, a girl with extraordinary oratorical gifts, which she deploys in tawdry meeting-houses on behalf of "the sisterhood of women." She acquires two admirers of a very different stamp: Olive Chancellor, devotee of radical causes and marked out for tragedy; and Basil Ransom, a veteran of the Civil War who holds rigid views concerning society and women's place therein. Is the lovely, lighthearted Verena made for public movements or private passions? A struggle to possess her, body and soul, develops between Olive and Basil.
The exploitation of Verena's unregenerate innocence reflects a society whose moral and cultural values are failing to survive the new dawn of liberalism and democracy. When it was first published in 1886, The Bostonians was not welcomed by Henry James's fellow countrymen, who failed to appreciate its delicacy and wit. But over a century later, this book is widely regarded as James's finest American fiction and perhaps his comic masterpiece.
Running time 18 hrs