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The Bostonians, Vol. II (of II)   By: (1843-1916)

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The Bostonians, Vol. II (of II) by Henry James is a thought-provoking novel that delves deep into the social and political dynamics of 19th-century Boston. In this second volume, James continues to weave a complex narrative that explores themes of feminism, idealism, and the search for personal identity.

The story primarily revolves around the relationships between Olive Chancellor, a passionate suffragette, and Basil Ransom, a Southern lawyer with opposing political views. As their ideological differences clash, their interactions become increasingly intense, leading to a tangled web of love, power struggles, and manipulation.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its nuanced portrayal of the feminist movement during that era. James skillfully captures the fervor and idealism of the suffrage movement, while also questioning its limitations and potential drawbacks. Olive Chancellor, as the embodiment of this movement, is a complex character fueled by her convictions but often blinded by her own dogmatism. Her journey from a staunch advocate for women's rights to a hesitant figure pondering the consequences of her own actions is thoroughly explored and makes for a compelling character arc.

Basil Ransom, on the other hand, represents the opposing viewpoint, offering a critique of Olive's unwavering dedication to the feminist cause. His skepticism towards the movement is rooted in his southern upbringing, which adds an additional layer of intrigue and tension to the narrative. This tension is further heightened by Ransom's blossoming romance with Verena Tarrant, a young and talented speaker who has become a symbol of the feminist movement.

James' writing style continues to be rich in descriptive language and introspective musings, immersing the reader in the world of 19th-century Boston. The author's keen observations of the characters' inner thoughts and motivations lend depth and complexity to the narrative, allowing the readers to deeply engage with their dilemmas and conflicting desires.

While the novel's exploration of the feminist movement and its consequences is undoubtedly fascinating, it occasionally suffers from a slow pace and a surplus of descriptive passages. Some readers may find themselves longing for a swifter narrative progression and tighter focus on the central conflicts.

Nonetheless, The Bostonians, Vol. II (of II) remains an important piece of literature that masterfully captures the nuances of its time period. Henry James' exploration of gender, power, and political conviction leaves readers questioning the complexities of social change and the balance between personal desires and social obligations. Ultimately, this thought-provoking novel poses timeless questions that continue to resonate in contemporary society.

First Page:







First published in 1886

BOOK SECOND ( Continued )


A little more than an hour after this he stood in the parlour of Doctor Tarrant's suburban residence, in Monadnoc Place. He had induced a juvenile maid servant, by an appeal somewhat impassioned, to let the ladies know that he was there; and she had returned, after a long absence, to say that Miss Tarrant would come down to him in a little while. He possessed himself, according to his wont, of the nearest book (it lay on the table, with an old magazine and a little japanned tray containing Tarrant's professional cards his denomination as a mesmeric healer), and spent ten minutes in turning it over. It was a biography of Mrs. Ada T. P. Foat, the celebrated trance lecturer, and was embellished by a portrait representing the lady with a surprised expression and innumerable ringlets. Ransom said to himself, after reading a few pages, that much ridicule had been cast upon Southern literature; but if that was a fair specimen of Northern! and he threw it back upon the table with a gesture almost as contemptuous as if he had not known perfectly, after so long a residence in the North, that it was not, while he wondered whether this was the sort of thing Miss Tarrant had been brought up on... Continue reading book >>

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