On The Bostonians

I can’t keep up with all the fascinating discussions at Laura Wood’s The Thinking Housewife. Here’s one item:

The Bostonians, by Henry James
A Thinking Housewife Book Club Selection

Before there were pick up artists, dark lords of singles bars and beta men studying the fine points of female psychology, there was Basil Ransom, a man who knew how to conquer and reform a feminist.

That’s depressing when you think about it. One hundred and twenty five years ago next month, the first installment of one of the most perceptive books ever written about the cultural decline and fall of Western women, the Henry James novel The Bostonians, was first serialized in a magazine.Thirty-five years before female suffrage and long before the birth control pill was in stock, James saw it all. He foresaw the catastrophic shriveling up of the feminine life force into a strained caricature of masculinity. He knew Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem before they ever drew a breath. He could have written the manifesto for NOW (with more eloquence) and delivered Nancy Pelosi’s first speech as Speaker of the House. He warned the world. And no one listened.

I’ve previously mentioned The Bostonians, in my Reading list, and in my post on the death of Christopher Reeve:

Christopher Reeve, R.I.P.

I feel saddened by the news of Christopher Reeve’s death. A courageous man and a good actor. While he was a perfect Superman/Clark Kent, the “Superman” movies were, for the most part, a major disappointment. His best role was in the movie version of Henry James’s The Bostonians. He played Basil Ransom, an uprooted former Confederate officer and traditional man trying to make his way as a lawyer in New York and Boston in the post Civil War years, and confronting the hyper-liberal, feminist society of the Northeast of that time. Reeve perfectly conveyed the dignity, and the dark depths of power, of Ransom’s character.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 13, 2010 02:45 PM | Send

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