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).
AuthorOliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.). (1809 - 1894). American.
WorkPoet. Novelist. Essayist. Member of the Boston Brahmins.
GenreRomantic poetry, novel, and prose (non-fiction).
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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).