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The only Puritanism that dies here, however, is the author's. His parents were Christian fundamentalists and as a result, young Edmund was denied interaction with other children as well as all variety of fictional tales. "Here was perfect purity," Gosse writes, "perfect intrepidity, perfect abnegation; yet there was also narrowness, isolation, and absence of perspective, let it boldly be admitted, an absence of humanity." Despite all of this, the child maintained his sense of humor, which adds much levity to a tale of such potentially grim proportions.
When Edmund was 8, his mother died of cancer, leaving him the care of a man in whom "sympathetic imagination ... was singularly absent." Philip Gosse held on to his faith in God above all else--so much so, in fact, that when evolutionary theory was announced to the world, he dismissed it entirely because it discounted the book of Genesis. Little by little, Edmund began to chafe against the traditions he had inherited. By the age of 11, he already saw himself "imprisoned for ever in the religious system which had caught me and would whurl my helpless spirit." At this point he believed his fate was sealed and went through the motions of piety. It is not until he goes off to boarding school, and discovers the Greeks and Romantic poetry, that he slowly chooses his own path. Eventually he comes to realize that he and his father "walked in opposite hemispheres of the soul." Their split encapsulates a particular moment in history but also embodies their destiny: "one was born to fly backward, the other could not help being carried forward." --Melanie Rehak
This is a beautifully written memoir of childhood. Yet, Henry James described the author as having a "gift for the inaccurate", and the accuracy of this book is disputed. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Janyce R. Lyman
*I got turned on to this book when I found it on one of Nick Hornby's list of faves*
The book fails to achieve what it hoped to: to find the seeds of Gosse's later... Read more
A very powerful yet delicate book.
Tells abou a troubled relationship in a very delicate manner.
More than expected!
In 1907, this "study of two temperaments" dramatized religious convention opposed to rational modernism. Edmund's father, Philip Henry Gosse, ran a Plymouth Brethren household. Read morePublished on November 9, 2012 by John L Murphy
"Fathers and Sons" is a classic Russian novel written by Ivan Turgenev in 1862. This novel has stood the test of time, and continues to be greatly admired and appreciated as a... Read morePublished on April 25, 2012 by Daniel
The first of all father memoirs, this is still one of the best. Interestingly, Edmund Gosse's first attempt to write about his father took the form of an official biography. Read morePublished on November 2, 2011 by Andre Gerard
"The life of a child is so brief, its impressions are so illusory and fugitive, that it is as difficult to record its history as it would be to design a morning cloud sailing... Read morePublished on June 11, 2010 by Daniel Myers
Edmund Gosse's FATHER AND SON is legitimately considered one of the highpoints of Victorian autobiography. Read morePublished on May 30, 2009 by Robert Moore