Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Culture of Conversation

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 30, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 398 pages
Peter Gibian explores the key role played by Oliver Wendell Holmes in what was known as America's 'Age of Conversation'. He was both a model and an analyst of the dynamic conversational form, which became central to many areas of mid-nineteenth-century life. Holmes' multivoiced writings can serve as a key to open up the closed interiors of Victorian America, whether in saloons or salons, parlours or clubs, hotels or boarding-houses, schoolrooms or doctors' offices. Combining social, intellectual, medical, legal and literary history with close textual analysis, and setting Holmes in dialogue with Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Fuller, Alcott and finally with his son, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior, Gibian radically redefines the context for our understanding of the major literary works of the American Renaissance.

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User Review  - Midnightdreary - LibraryThing

In this enormously-comprehensive study, Gibian convincingly argues that all of Dr. Holmes's varied interests - from medicine to novels to poetry to reform - stem from his role in developing a "culture ... Read full review


PART ONE Opening the conversation
PART TWO Holmes in the conversation of his culture
PART THREE The two poles of conversation
PART FOUR Closing the conversation

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About the author (2001)

Peter Gibian is Associate Professor of English at McGill University, Montréal.

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