Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Holmes, Oliver Wendell. (1809 - 1894).

L i f e

- a prominent Boston writer, physician, scientist, moralist, and statesman

- demanded as a lecturer at medical meetings and as after-dinner speaker

- solved the dilemmas both of religious beliefs and vocational choices: finally settled on liberal views

- preferred the relative surety of science > practical even in his writing

- considered the Romantically inspired Transcendentalism difficult

- invented the name for Brahmins > his favourite subject the superiority of Boston culture

- invented the name for the Atlantic Monthly

W o r k

P o e t r y :

- author of graceful, lively, witty, and humorous poetry

- light verse: no deep, strong, or original thoughts

- occasional poems: written freely and happily for festivals and public occasions

- published principally in the Atlantic Monthly

- some of his poems eventually became schoolroom classics

“The Chambered Nautilus”:

- mingles philosophy and satire

“The Deacon's Masterpiece”:

- cleverly attacks the Puritan Calvinism

E s s a y s :

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858):

- a series of humorous and witty essays contributed to the Atlantic Monthly

- imaginary entertaining conversations at a Boston boarding-house

- reflect his opinions, charm, and remarkable conversational wit

The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860), The Poet at the Breakfast Table (1972), and Over the Teacups:

- later published volumes in the same mode

N o v e l s :

- traces the character’s psychological reaction to the events shaping his/her life

- explores the alternatives to a strictly theological explanation of human behaviour

Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny (1861):

- a pregnant woman bitten by a snake gives birth to a child embodying the snakelike characteristics of that prenatal influence

The Guardian Angel (1867)
A Moral Antipathy (1885)


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons).

  • Author

    Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.). (1809 - 1894). American.
  • Work

    Poet. Novelist. Essayist. Member of the Boston Brahmins.
  • Genre

    Romantic poetry, novel, and prose (non-fiction).


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


"What a blessed thing it is, that Nature, when she invented, manufactured, and patented her authors, contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left"!

From The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860).


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