Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table

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By Holmes, was published in 1858, although the germ of the idea may be seen in two papers published (1831–32) in The New England Magazine and never reprinted. These rambling Addisonian essays describe imaginary table talk at a Boston boarding house, and include a number of the author's poems: “The Deacon's Masterpiece,” “The Chambered Nautilus,” “Contentment,” “The Living Temple,” and others. The conversation comprehends many topics and expresses Holmes's urbane philosophy and his concept of the New England character in an easy, genial, witty style. Among those who participate are the Autocrat; the Schoolmistress, to whom he becomes engaged; the Landlady and her Daughter; the Old Gentleman Opposite; the Divinity Student; and the Poor Relation. The success of the Autocrat led the author to write three other series: The Professor at the Breakfast-Table (1860), The Poet at the Breakfast-Table (1872) and Over the Teacups 1891).

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809—1894) American physician, poet, and essayist