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Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny



Author: Holmes, Oliver Wendell

Publisher: Fictionwise.com

Format: Mobipocket PRC

Content Language: English

Print ISBN: 9781406921649

Size: 461 KB

Publication Date: 2004-07-22

Category:
Fiction > Classics

Compatible Software:
Mobipocket ReaderMobipocket Reader

Digital Rights:
Encryption: Mobipocket DRM


$2.52

Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny
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DESCRIPTION
At the heart of his 1861 novel Elsie Venner: A Romance of Destiny (a novel Oliver Wendell Holmes later called his "medicated novel"), lies an analogy between original sin and genetic inheritance. Poisoned in utero by rattlesnake venom, the novel's eponymous heroine comes into the world a hybrid of snake and human. She coils, slithers, and strikes; her skin is cold, her eyes glittering diamonds, and her only friends are rattlesnakes. When she is given a basket of White Ash leaves, a tree long believed to be an antidote to rattlesnake venom, Elsie shrinks into herself "in a curdling terror." Unable to love (or even cry), Elsie passes through the novel as the object of everyone's repulsed and fascinated gaze (snakes are known, after all, for their ability to charm with horror). She falls in love with a young doctor named Bernard Langdon, who proves incapable of loving a serpent. A wealthy heiress, she attracts the fortune-hunting designs of her cousin, Richard (Dick) Venner, who mistakenly views Bernard as a romantic rival and seeks the young doctor's undoing. Alongside the love-triangle of the novel's central marriage plot, Holmes studies the anatomy of small-town America, moving with facility from genteel irony, to moralising outrage, to elitist caricature. From the good-humoured depiction of the newly moneyed Sprowles, to the angry savaging of the grasping educator, Silas Peckham, to Elsie's black servant Sophy (a figure drawn from the mythology of the plantation Mammy whose raving illiteracy is exceeded only by her accurate understanding of Elsie) the supporting cast frames the novel's central plot in a characteristically Holmesean analysis of small town America.


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