ERIC Number: ED306578
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989
Reference Count: N/A
A "Convenient Medium of Truth": "Elsie Venner" and the Medicated Novels of Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Cole, David L.
Illinois English Bulletin, v76 n3 p51-59 Spr 1989
During his long career as medical doctor, professor, lecturer, and author, Oliver Wendell Holmes produced, among other notable works, three novels designed to caution the medical profession against giving precedence to cures over causes in the healing process: "Elsie Venner,""the Guardian Angel," and "A Mortal Antipathy." Of these three "medicated" novels, "Elsie Venner" has attracted the widest audience, with its consistently vibrant heroine, whose ophidian traits enhance the psychological mystery of her nature and eventual revelation of her human desires. Similarly, "The Guardian Angel" and "A Mortal Antipathy" address the riddle of psychological ills--the main character in all three novels suffers from some degree of psychological malady diagnosed by medical doctors, who become central characters. Although Holmes is not considered a pre-Freudian, his portrayal of psychological disorders in the three novels yields his contribution to the rise of realism in nineteenth-century American literature and the need for humane and objective medical diagnosis in place of the demands of social customs and religious dogma. (MM)
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A