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Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments (Nonsuch Classics) [Paperback]

Edmund Gosse
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

31 Aug 2005 Nonsuch Classics
From an early age, Edmund Gosse was taught that imagination was a sin, was told stories of missionaries rather than fairytales and had no childhood companions. Yet this was not an unhappy childhood and his affection for his parents is clear. As the child suffers the death of his mother and grows into a man, he questions the faith of his father.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Nonsuch Publishing (31 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845880188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845880187
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 12.8 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 816,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Edmund William Gosse was born in 1849, the son of zoologist Philip Henry Gosse. In 1870 he co-authored Madrigals, Songs and Sonnets with John Blaikie. As well as composing poetry, which was published as Collected Poems in 1911, Gosse's passion for reading led him to study European literature, and he introduced Ibsen to the English public. In 1879 he published his Literature of Northern Europe, which established him as an expert on Scandanavian and Dutch literature. He also wrote numerous biographies of literary notables including John Donne, as well as a biography of his father. Father and Son was published anonymously in 1907. He was knighted in 1925, awarded the French Legion d'honneur in the same year, and received numerous honorary doctorates from various European universities. He died in 1928.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A famous classic 5 Feb 2013
By D. Zuck
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A superb study of the dire effect of religious single-mindedness of family relationships. The last chapter describes the unbearable strain which caused him to break contact with the father he loved.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars Science and Religion 12 Jun 2004
By Mary E. Sibley - Published on
I love this story of Philip and Edmund Gosse. There is generational conflict.
Philip Gosse, son of a painter of miniatures, was a miniaturist. As a young man he went from Poole, England to New Foundland for six years and to Alabama for three. In Alabama he taught school. In 1832 he began his entomologic collection.
Philip left his Methodist chapel and joined a small group of Plymouth Brethren. In 1844 Philip was sent to Jamaica. He became a successful writer of scientific books. In 1848 he married Emily Bowes. She fell to writing religious tracts. The son, Edmund, born in 1849, suffered deprivations. He had few toys, no playmates and no reading except for religious tracts and the Bible.
In 1849 Philip purchased a microscope. He grew in knowledge and number of publications and received honors. In 1852 he invented the marine aquarium. In 1857 Philip Gosse sought to present a unified scientific and biblical version of geologic time to refute Darwinism. Before the book's publication his career had met with resounding success. After OMPHALOS he faced failure and ridicule.
The secular education of the son was neglected. Eventually Edmund reacted against the loneliness and religion of his childhood. Edmund became a Bohemian prophet without the taint of Bohemianism it is asserted in the introduction to the book. An American tour made him a public figure. Edmund Gosse's reputation plunged when he was found to have written an error-filled account of Swinburne. He became famous for having Sunday afternoon parties for all of the important people of his day. The introduction to the book by William Irvine claims that Edmund Gosse was inspired to write FATHER AND SON after he wrote a biography of another literary figure, Coventry Patmore.
The book claims to be a record of the struggle of two temperaments. Certainly temperament and spirit are featured notably in the work. Edmund's mother had rigor of spirit. She practiced constant self-denial. She was stronger than her husband.
The parents visited no one. Edmund's mother's brothers visited them. The brothers had been helped through Cambridge by her employment as a teacher at a mouldering Irish estate. The author has the idea that his mother was suited by nature to be a novelist. His mother's death when he was seven left a gap that his father sought to fill.
In his eighth year his father instructed him in the Epistles of the New Testament. The emphasis was doctrinal. The attitude of the father toward natural selection was critical to his career as noted above. After the failure to refute Darwin's theory the family moved to the sea shore. In Devonshire marine creatures were collected and documented by the father. The village in Devon is described as open and squalid. The father's life work was really the practical study of animal forms in detail. The study of British sea anemones was ready for the press in 1859.
Edmund was taught Latin by his father. When Edmund was eleven his father remarried. His father permitted him to read the poems but not the novels of Scott. Then he was allowed to read Dickens. He read PICKWICK with rapture. He was sent to a boarding school run by some Plymouth Brethren. At age fifteen he fell under the spell of Shakespeare. Later the poetry of the Romatic era interested him greatly.
The book is of great interest to us in its sensitive descriptions presented from a child's perspective of a household bereft and subject to religious mania. Since great literature was not presented to Edmund in childhood, evidently his response to it in later life was more acute. Notwithstanding the narrow channels in which his parents exercised their gifts as writers, they transmitted to him through genetic endowment or by example the vocation he was to follow as an adult.
5.0 out of 5 stars A justly celebrated memoir of the Victorian age 31 May 2009
By Robert Moore - Published on
Edmund Gosse's FATHER AND SON is legitimately considered one of the highpoints of Victorian autobiography. As has been noted by others, the book recounts the relationship between Edmund Gosse and his father, a member of the Christian sect generally known as Plymouth Brethren, but who was also a member of the Royal Society and one of the foremost marine biologists of his time. The narrative tends to break down into a number of definite segments: the author's birth until the death of his mother; life with his father until the time of the publishing of Darwin's THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES; the move of the Gosses to the coast of England; and young Gosse's schooling and gradual growth away from the religious teachings and expectations he had received from his parents.

A number of powerful impressions evolve over the course of the telling. First and foremost, one is left with an impression of how overwhelmingly Gosse's childhood was stripped of nearly all fun by his parents' puritanical and stern religion. Gosse's father is presented not as a cruel, vicious, and hypocritical. Instead, he is shown as a caring parent, a completely earnest practitioner of his religion, but fanatically concerned to eliminate all activities that do not lead to increased religious devotion and moral seriousness. Unfortunately, this resulted for Gosse in a childhood from which all possibility of play and fun and delight had been eliminated. Near the end of the book, I was left wondering if Gosse would have been inclined to leave Christianity if he had just had more fun as a kid.

The section of the book dealing with his father's reaction to Darwin's ORIGIN OF SPECIES was for me the most interesting part of the book. His father's scientific standing was such that Darwin actually contacted him before the publication of his theories, and asked his response. Gosse notes that his father instantly understood that the scientific evidence clearly supported Darwin's theory. His reading of Genesis, however, indicated to him that the world was created in six days, which precluded the scenario articulated by Darwin. He therefore concluded that god created the earth in six days, but in so doing implanted fossils and geologic strata into the earth. In this way, his father was able to explain both the apparent evidence for eons long development of the earth and homo sapiens and yet retain his belief in the belief that Genesis taught a six day literal creation.

There are any of a number of reasons to read this work. It is a classic autobiography, an important source for one response to the reception of Darwin, and a magnificent evocation of puritanical religious life during the Victorian age. Most of all, it is a disturbing account of the distortive effect that intolerant and narrow-minded religious upbringing can have on an individual.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Realization of Truth Rejected 17 Aug 2013
By Raymond D. Grosser - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We listen to Ravi Zacharias and while listening to his Christian apologetic he called, "Chariots of Fire", Ravi mentioned this book, "Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments". He read a considerable quotation from the book and I was intrigued because I know someone who has rejected the teaching of the Eternal God of her believing father and mother, so I ordered it and I read it carefully.

The wordsmithery is magnificent and the way the author speaks (Writes) is late 19th century English which has a rather large number of words that requires the reader to be either very well read or handy with a dictionary. Either way it is an intriguing work of revealing the truth that is so often hidden to vast numbers of people.

The truth is that there is but one name under heaven as God says and Luke writes in Acts 4:12, by which we might be saved, and the author knew the name but in the end did not have a true transformation into faith by that name. He knew about Jesus, the Messiah of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, but by by his own admission walked on the wide path that leads to destruction of the soul by revering man greater than his maker. He was deceived and did not accept the fact that the road to eternal life is narrow, as is the gate, as recorded by the very Scripture he claimed to hold for himself as God says and Matthew writes in 7:14.

The author reveals the truly sinful nature of the human being by relating a number of stories from his early childhood memories, memories that are well known to most honest people of faith as we all have had it revealed to us at one time or another that we are by nature sinful and prone to deception.

This book is not an easy read. It requires some thought and thoughtfulness and above all one must consider the eternal message being spoken of even though in the end the son rejected his father's urgings and convictions, one might better conclude that he rejected his father's God and made a god of his own choosing which for those who do this is a false god equal to the eternal. This is common among men and even more common in our day with the myriad of distractions and deceptions facing us daily.

It is amazing that the post modern man is clearly seen in the words of this author, he transcends decades, culture, and language which is the amazing truth of the Scripture given to the world through the ages. God has provided a way of escape but even vast numbers of people who believe themselves to be Christian are for all intent fellow travelers of Edmund Gosse have failed to see or understand. The truth is right before everyone on the earth, but few there be that find it.

This is an amazing book and I recommend it to any who KNOW the true and living God Yahweh. But to anyone who has not been transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God it will be just another book on the shelf like the Scripture itself, read but not received.

Respectively submitted--RG.
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