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Holmes, Oliver Wendell

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1809-1894) US poet, essayist, editor, medical doctor and author, of sf interest in the latter capacity for Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny (January 1860-April 1861 The Atlantic Monthly as "The Professor's Story"; 1861 2vols), in which the classic fantasy and supernatural topos of the Lamia is reconstructed in terms of Biology: the eponymous young female, having been "poisoned" in the womb with rattlesnake venom (see Poison), grows up half-ophidian: her blood is cold; her bite venomous; she has a Basilisk stare; her love for the young doctor-protagonist – significantly a teacher at the local "Appolinian [sic] Institute" – is inexpressible but obscurely affronting. The novel, told in a tone of Satire reminiscent of a stripped-down George Meredith (1828-1909), pitches a medical understanding of Elsie as a kind of Mutant over against the New England Puritanism of the setting, and was described in "Some of our Social Philosophers" (15 June 1866 The New York Nation), anonymous, as a Scientific Romance. [JC]

see also: Medicine.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

born Cambridge, Massachusetts: 29 August 1809

died Cambridge, Massachusetts: 7 October 1894



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