"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
Peter Gibian explores the key role played by Oliver Wendell Holmes 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, parlours or clubs, hotels or boarding-houses. Combining social, intellectual, medical, legal and literary history with close textual analysis, and setting Holmes in dialogue with Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, Fuller and Alcott, Gibian radically redefines the context for our understanding of the major literary works of the American Renaissance.