The Bostonians, by Henry James, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
Nearly a century before the birth of the contemporary feminist movement, Henry James dealt with its nineteenth-century forerunner in The Bostonians. Mixing acute social observation and psychological analysis with mordant humor, James hangs his story on a unique instance of the traditional romantic triangle. At its apex stands the vibrantly beautiful Verena Tarrant, an intense public speaker who arouses the passions of two very different people. Olive Chancellor, a Boston-bred suffragette, dreams of turning Verena into a fiery campaigner for women's rights. Basil Ransom, a Mississippi-bred lawyer, dreams of turning her into his wife. As these two struggle for possession of Verena's soul—and body—their confusions, crises, and conflicts begin almost preternaturally to prefigure today's sexual politics. In fact, James's complex portrait of Olive and her ideals, savagely satirical yet sympathetic and so controversial when it first appeared, continues to evoke both anger and admiration. But he treats Verena and Basil with equal complexity, climaxed by the novel's quietly haunting final sentence.
Siri Hustvedt earned a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University in 1986 and is the author of a book of poetry, Reading to You; three novels: The Blindfold, The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, and What I Loved; and a book of essays, Yonder.