- Tapa blanda: 282 páginas
- Editor: Scholar's Choice (14 de febrero de 2015)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 1298006465
- ISBN-13: 978-1298006462
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
The autocrat of the breakfast-table; every man his own Boswell - Scholar's Choice Edition (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 14 feb 2015
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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.
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The Autocrat is learned and urbane. He speaks intelligently on a diverse array of topics, including the rules governing the art of conversation (including the "pun-question", which he dismisses as "verbicide"), horse racing, writing, deja vu, the superior ability of the olfactory sense in recalling old memories, old age or "senectitude", laughter, poetry, knowledge, the benefits of rowing, boxing, hats, trees and other topics. Interspersed throughout the work are collections of verse as well.
While not a page-turner, I found myself reasonably engaged throughout the work with two exceptions: (1) there are a couple of passages in French (I have no French), one of which is fairly long and (2) the budding and finally flowering romance at the end of the work I found to be rather dull reading and somewhat superfluous, given the nature of the work.
While reading this book I felt as though I had escaped from my overly-structured, hectic existence - and the collection of (often vulgar) characters that pass uninvited across the stage of my life - to become a part of the much simpler yet richer world of the Autocrat. Time slowed down. Reflection and conversation were the order of the day. I realized with regret that the deliberate reflection that nourishes a flow of ideas, and from which yet new ideas oft emerge, had at some point been demoted in my own life to the status of a luxury.
in the 1800's . I especially like the essay on
the "Advantages of Aging ".
I am now interested in reading all of the
"Breakfast Table Series"
Holmes was considered an important American writer until the 1920s when he was excised from the American canon by the modernists. They depicted him as willfully provincial, and elitist. What those critics failed to understand was that the Autocrat is also a comic pose, and that Holmes is making sport of everyone, including elitists. Holmes' democratic view of conversation as an open, free-wheeling discourse where anyone could join the Autocrat at his table, as long as they enlivened the conversation, ran counter to the views of his more elitist friends in Boston's Saturday Club in Boston. Holmes loved to talk, and his love for talk made him a democrat, or perhaps a true republican.
His Autocrat is a many sided character: stern and foolish, admonitory and celebratory, a polymorph who will don any temporaty mask necessary to keep the conversation alive. Holmes' playful metaphorical imagination is also a revelation. His gift for translating complex ideas into homey metaphors, aphorisms, and similes is nothing short of miraculous. In the words of another seriously comic American whom I'm sure Holmes would have delighted in, the Autocrat "floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee."
The Autocrat of the Breakfast table begins "in media res," in the middle of a conversation, with the Autocrat attempting to set the rules for conversation at his table. They are generous rules, but even they are open to sabotage by his tablemates at the boarding house. He begins by banning "facts" from his table as impediments to conversation, (a condition that should prevail on today's too numerous current event talking head shows. But I, like the Autocrat, digress).
Here's how the Autocrat starts: "I was just going to say, when I was interrupted, that one of the many ways of classifying minds is under the head of arithmetical and algebraical intellects. All economical and practical wisdom is an extension of the following arithmetical formula: 2 + 2 = 4. Every philosophical proposition has the more general character of the expression a + b = c. We are mere operatives, empirics, and egoists, until we learn to think in letters instead of figures." "They all stared. There is a divinity student lately come among us to whom I commonly address remarks like this. "
In other words, as Gibian says in his marvelous OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES AND THE CULTURE OF CONVERSATION: [The Autocrat] only asks us to study his beliefs the way a pragmatist would study the doctrines of any religion: "I don't want you to believe anything I say; I only want you to to try to see what makes me believe it." How refreshing in this age of factoids and statisticoids recited with rancor and ideological certitude, to hear the Autocrat and his tablemates at the boarding house attempting to fashion a democracy through and by their conversation. Nowadays all we have are the unironic Autocrats, control freaks like John McLaughlin, Ted Koppel, Rush Limbaugh, and that guy on FOX whose name I have, pleasantly, forgotten.
Listening to the Autocrat you can almost hear American singing. It's not exactly Walt Whitman's America, but it's still America in the hopeful, experimental antebellum era, and thus a good antidote to the cold technocratic chatter and lukewarm public relations cant we are showered with in this hypermediated century.