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July 1946

The Psychiatric Novels of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Abridgment, Introduction and Annotations.

Arch NeurPsych. 1946;56(1):131. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1946.02300180143018

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Abstract

Oberndorf has undertaken to dissect, condense and explain the three novels of Holmes that deal especially with psychologic problems, namely, "Elsie Venner," "The Guardian Angel" and "A Mortal Antipathy." Each of these novels presents a hero or a heroine whose adjustment has been warped by circumstances, and, while a "cure" is forthcoming in the last two, Elsie Venner went to her death in what might be considered a catatonic episode. The "cures" savor somewhat of shock, since an overturned boat in Myrtle Hazard's case and a fire in the home of Maurice Kirkwood, with the attendant circumstances, resulted in progressive readaptation. Holmes's novels are old-fashioned, with their dialogue, their dissertations by various characters and the rather cumbersome working out of the plots. There is, however, a certain felicity of expression that Oberndorf has retained, so that the essentials of each story stand out in strong relief. "Many of the pasages

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