Henry James: The Bostonians (5893 words)


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Henry James, pondering ideas in his Notebook entry of 8 April 1883 for a new novel to be set mainly in Boston, transcribed part of a letter he had written to J. R. Osgood, his American publisher:

I wished to write a very American tale, a tale very characteristic of our social conditions, and I asked myself what was the most salient and peculiar point in our social life. The answer was: the situation of women, the decline of the sentiment of sex, the agitation on their behalf. (James, Notebooks, 47)

This uncharacteristic declaration of precisely defined sociological intent stemmed from his recent visit to America in 1881-2 which had reawakened memories of the cultural milieu of his …

Citation: Righelato, Pat. "The Bostonians". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 September 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1407, accessed 25 February 2021.]

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