Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Culture of Conversation

Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Culture of Conversation

Peter Gibian explores the key role played by Oliver Wendell Holmes, senior, in what was known as America's "Age of Conversation". Holmes' multivoiced writings can serve as a key to open up the closed interiors of Victorian America, whether in saloons or salons, parlors or clubs, hotels or boarding houses. Combining social, intellectual, medical, legal and literary history with close textual analysis, and setting Holmes in dialoge with Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Fuller and Alcott, Gibian radically redefines the context for our understanding of the major literary works of the American Renaissance.


"They are 'dazzling' in the breadth of their allusions and striking in their wit and verbal originality. [It] is a rich book ... extensive in its courage and often penetrating in its analysis of a forgotten figure. If it sends new readers to Holmes's trilogy, one of the hidden treasures of American writing, then it will truly have done a service." Nineteenth Century Literature


Winner of the Lois Rudnick Prize of the American Studies Association, New England Chapter

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