A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (Historical Guides to by David S. Reynolds

By David S. Reynolds

Few authors are so compatible to old examine as Whitman, who's greatly thought of America's maximum poet. This consultant combines modern cultural reports and historic scholarship to light up Whitman's assorted contexts. The essays discover dimensions of Whitman's dynamic dating to working-class politics, race and slavery, sexual mores, the visible arts, and the belief of democracy. The poet who emerges from this quantity isn't any "solitary singer," distanced from his tradition, yet what he himself known as "the age transfigured," absolutely enmeshed in his occasions and addressing matters which are nonetheless important at the present time.

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There was a thriving pornography trade that distressed him. He feared that such popular literature was contributing to what he regarded as America's alarming moral decline. Shortly after Leaves of Grass first appeared in 1855, he was walking around with a friend in Manhattan when he spotted a teenager selling pornographic books. "That's a New York reptile," he snarled. "41 He once wrote in his notebook: "In the pleantiful [sic] feast of romance presented to us, all the novels, all the poems really dish up only one .

Walt contributed a variety of articles to the Crescent, mainly lighthearted sketches of colorful people he saw about town. " He also noticed the beautiful octoroon women of New Orleans, "women with splendid bodies— . . "19 New Orleans seems to have deepened his sympathy for the South, which he would later eulogize: "O magnet-South! O glistening perfumed South! "20 After three months, Walt had a falling-out with the owners of the Crescent over money matters. He and the homesick Jeff took a steamer north to St.

74. TC, I:247. 75. PW,II:370. 76. Oliver Stevens to James R. Osgood, letter of March 1, 1882. Feinberg Collection, Library of Congress. 1 But Whitman was a poet embedded in his times, and his times—not unlike our own—were a period of intense disagreement about the significance and importance of racial difference. His career demonstrates his struggle with his times—and with himself—over the issue of race in the United States, and, because of that, his work offers important insight into the ongoing struggle in America to create a unified society that nonetheless maintains and celebrates its diversity.

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