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1. Poems By Walt Whitman
2. The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics)
3. Whitman: Poetry and Prose (Library
4. Complete Poems of Whitman (Wordsworth
5. Leaves of Grass
6. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural
7. Walt Whitman: A Life (Perennial
8. The Better Angel: Walt Whitman
9. The Portable Walt Whitman (Penguin
10. Drum Taps
11. Whitman: Poems (Everyman's Library
12. Walt Whitman: Words For America
13. Song of Myself: And Other Poems
14. Walt Whitman's Civil War (A Da
15. Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An
16. Selections from Leaves of Grass
17. To Walt Whitman, America
18. Walt Whitman: Selected Poems 1855-1892
19. Walt Whitman & the World
20. On Whitman (Writers on Writers)

1. Poems By Walt Whitman
by Walt Whitman
 Hardcover: 266 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$34.36 -- used & new: US$32.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1169752209
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done! The ship has weathered every wrack, the prize we sought is won. The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

1-0 out of 5 stars Badly flawed
I wish I could get my money back.The pages are not centered, thereby omitting the first words of each line.It's absolutely pointless to have in my Kindle, as it is unreadable.

2-0 out of 5 stars Loved content, hard to read
If you can make your way around by your self, it is great--but the table of contents is difficult and it is hard to flip through and find your well remembered poems.Probably should have bought an annotated version.Will probably buy a paper used version instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars Hard to Read, Hard to Navigate
Well, I love Whitman and I love free books.So that being said, I can't really complain too much.However, I was very disappointed by the lack of formatting and navigation options.The line breaks are practically non-existent, with the exception of punctuation that serves as line breaks (colons and so forth).Furthermore, the table of contents is not linked/click-able.You can't use it to navigate from poem to poem.You will have to use the search function and bookmarks extensively to make your version comfortable to navigate.The collection itself is rather extensive, which is nice.

4-0 out of 5 stars Arranged a little oddly
Nice collection but it's arranged a little oddly.Some pieces I would put under different categories.Makes my favorite poem hard to find. ... Read more

2. The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics)
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 912 Pages (2005-03-29)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$9.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140424512
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1855 Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass, the work that defined him as one of America’s most influential voices and that he added to throughout his life. A collection of astonishing originality and intensity, it spoke of politics, sexual emancipation, and what it meant to be an American. From the joyful "Song of Myself" and "I Sing the Body Electric" to the elegiac "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d," Whitman’s art fuses oratory, journalism, and song in a vivid celebration of humanity. Containing all Whitman’s known poetic work, this edition reprints the final, or "deathbed," edition of Leaves of Grass (1891–92). Earlier versions of many poems are also given, including the 1855 "Song of Myself." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars very complete!
This book covers every one of the many, many revisions of Leaves of Grass.Great for enjoymen as well as research.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Greats
Walt Whitman is, indisputably, America's poet. He is vast, large, contradictory (Do I contradict myself?/Very well then I contradict myself/(I am large, I contain multitudes)), beautiful and loose and American to the core!

His greatest poem is, in my opinion, "Song of Myself." This is far from a controversial opinion, and for good reason; the eighty-odd page long poem is an astounding epic--albeit, an unusual one, but a monumental achievement of literature. It is Whitman as Everyman, Whitman as you, as me, as all other mortals from China to Peru. I quote his beautiful closing stanzas:

"I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I
If you want me again look for me under your bootsoles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you"

Such beauty in verse, especially free verse, is scarcely found, and, when found, must be cherished. There is a reason almost all poets after him--and not just poets in the English language, either (Borges, for example, aspired to be the "Whitman of Argentina")--have been influenced by him more so than any other poet besides perhaps Shakespeare and Milton.

Nor is "Song of Myself" his only great poem, though it surely be his greatest. His elegy for Abraham Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" is monumental (the great critic Harold Bloom declares it Whitman's finest poem, and thus the greatest of all American poems--I dissent, but uphold its marvel nonetheless), as is almost all of his wonderful corpus of poetry. Whitman is remarkable; he is inescapable; he is beautiful. Read him, and thou shalt be infinitely rewarded.

5-0 out of 5 stars The collection I always wanted
I was turned on to "Uncle Walt," as my high school teacher described him, while taking American Literature, and am thankful for it.While Whitman has a unique style of writing, I am drawn to it and enjoy this book emensely. I definetely recommend this book to any Walt Whitman fan, and to those that appreciate American poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Whitman's World
Whitman is a special poet. As you read through his poems you get the feeling that you are not reading poetry but rather going through Whitman's mind. His compulsive style both simple and meticulous, his whirling rhythym, and his proud usage of the first person, all give you a vivid glimpse of the world through his eyes and heart; the eyes of his time and the poetic heart of his thoughts. Yet even though Whitman talks to you in social vocab. you know that you are listening to a poet because ast is ineveitable to sense his power to overwhelm. Lorca described Whitman as "viejo" and "hermoso", and these descriptions are true of Whitman the poet as Whitman the man. After reading this book you'll be short of words to describe it as I appear to be. It has too much inside it. But it is beautiful because the words inside it come from a man who knew how to appreciate and merge with the antiquity and great elderiness of the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars !!!EMERALD!!!
not only the greatest selling poet who has been dead for more than fifty years, not only the poet whose translations are regularly read abroad, not only the poet whose name has in-spired countless others, not only the poet who freed us from the manacles of rhyme and decapitated the tyranny of meter but also a man of enthusiasm, a titan, a man whose soul floods with belch, fume and quake, a man who confronts the ravenous centaurs of humdrum and blugeons them swiftly in a spasmo of frenzy-fire, a wanderer, a searcher, one whose mind travels vig-orously throughout the cosmimosa and embellishes it with jac-inths of thought and blooms of popy! not only a man of gargan-tuan passions, one who rages in the face of metallic storm but also a man whose depressions, fogs, glooms and sensitivity to flowers, softness and the defenseless bloom in stark heart-throb.no doubt he is a poet well worth a place beside such other titano-giants such as goethe, milton and homer, for he too sings the song of war, his book is a chanson of bellum for he sings of the battle of the passions, the climaximum of the emo-ceans, he challenges the raw specters of gash, their eyes oozing of slime-drab and rather than succumb to the oxen of indiffer-ence he instead triumphs over the gray and his book thus re-sounds in shinning claria!his is an adventure of thought sur-real in its gusto, jumping in its excitica and wild in its leap of ideas!thank celestium that he liberated us poets from the ab-surd manacles of rhyme and meter and we can now surge through horiza with countless new devices, metaphors and similies awaiting in our platoons!he is the cougar of innova-tion, the lion of spasmo and the giant of vision.

kyle foley, author of Lorelei Pursued and Wrestles with God ... Read more

3. Whitman: Poetry and Prose (Library of America College Editions)
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 1424 Pages (1996-05-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$14.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1883011353
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Contains the first and "deathbed" editions of "Leaves of Grass," and virtually all of Whitman's prose, with reminiscences of nineteenth-century New York City, notes on the Civil War, especially his service in Washington hospitals and glimpses of President Lincoln, and attacks on the misuses of national wealth after the war. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great original versions
Read it to see the evolution of one of the most famous writers in our history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of Whitman
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul"

I picked up this beautiful book in 1997 in a used bookstore in mint condition for half price and it was just what I was looking for.Before reading it, I had read "Song of Myself" and most of his major poems, some many times over, but having this little edition in my hands was a mind opener.There were so many pieces I loved and could write about in this review, yet I will limit myself to one: "Democratic Vistas," the tripartite prose essay which was written between the years 1856 and 1870, and which was to become his greatest prose statement about the relationship between Art and society and the role of the Poet in shaping world culture."View'd today, from a point of view sufficiently over-arching" he wrote: "the problem of humanity all over the civilized world is social and religious and is to be finally met and treated by literature.The priest departs, the divine literatus comes.Never was anything more wanted then, to-day and here in the States, the poet of the modern is wanted, or the great literatus of the modern.At all times, perhaps, the central point in any nation, and that whence it is itself really sway'd the most, and whence it sways others, is its national literature, especially its archetypal poems" (932).When I read this I was amazed.The passage could almost have been written by a present day post-Jungian!Passages like this one show clearly that Whitman had achieved a union of opposites in the Self.At the center of Whitman's vision of democracy was his religious vision of universal brotherhood: "adhesiveness or love, that fuses, ties and aggregates, making the races comrades, and fraternizing all" (949).The "fruition of democracy" Whitman realized after the War, was to reside "altogether in the future" (956).It has sometimes been said that Whitman was too optimistic.But, when I read Poetry and Prose I saw another side of him altogether.In his notes on "Nationality," for instance, Whitman wrote: "I have myself little or no hope from what is technically called `Society' in our American cities" (1061).What he was interested in was "the important question of character, of an American stock-personality, with literatures and arts for outlets and return-expressions...common to all" (936).For Whitman, the growth of personalities was the only concern of any "real importance...the idea of that Something a man is...divine in his own right, and woman in hers, sole and untouchable by any canons of authority" (939, 941).As Whitman saw it, social transformation is a matter of individual responsibility, a moral and spiritual problem, which every person faces.Whitman believed that there had to be a provision in Democracy for "a little healthy rudeness, savage virtue, justification of what one has in one's self, whatever it is, is demanded" (961).Of all the books on my shelf, this is perhaps one of my favorites.A handsome hardback edition in green cloth, with very fine pages, it is a joy to turn the pages of and to read into the dark.This little book is a must for any lover of Whitman.

5-0 out of 5 stars PERFECT

5-0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets...
Excellent comparative collection of the earlier and later editions, plus Specimen Days and other prose by Whitman not available in one collection. The binding is the best and the pages will last for a looong time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Walt Whitman Is My Muse!
As the author of "Of Life Immense: The Prophetic Vision of Walt Whitman," I have many copies of "Leaves of Grass," along with many other books about Walt Whitman. The "Library of America Edition" is very well done, beautiful to read and wonderful to hold.Justin Kaplan"s commentary is insightful and his selection of Whitman's prose provides the reader with significant understanding of Whitman's life.If you have only one book by and about Walt Whitman, this may well be the book you should have. ... Read more

4. Complete Poems of Whitman (Wordsworth Poetry) (Wordsworth Collection)
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 608 Pages (1998-04-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1853264334
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Walt Whitman's verse gave the poetry of America a distinctive national voice. It reflects the unique vitality of the new nation, the vastness of the land and the emergence of a sometimes troubled consciousness, communicated in language and idiom regarded by many at the time as shocking. Whitman's poems are organic and free flowing, fit into no previously defined genre and skilfully combine autobiographical, sociological and religious themes with lyrical sensuality. His verse is a fitting celebration of a new breed of American and includes Song of Myself, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, the celebratory Passage to India, and his fine elegy for the assassinated President Lincoln, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Poetry Forever
Leaves of Grass redirected my young life.

This creative style of Whitman and all his comtempories still thrills me.

--retired English teacher and published poet.

5-0 out of 5 stars Walt Whitman's Complete Works
Among the many American authors and poets, the name Walt Whitman stands out as a giant. He single-handedly transformed the world of American poetry with his one and only collection, Leaves of Grass. Leaves of Grass, however, is not one collection between two covers. Rather, it is a collection of collections. Poems like "When Lilacs in the Dooryard Bloom'd", "O Captain, My Captain", and "I Hear America Singing" have forever been imprinted in the American psyche as brilliant, original works of literature. This book not only features Leaves of Grass, but also discarded poems and unpublished poems that were not published in the book. This book is a definitive introduction to the works of one America's greatest literary giants. ... Read more

5. Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 384 Pages (2010-10-31)
list price: US$9.90 -- used & new: US$9.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1936041375
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, contained twelve long untitled poems, but Whitman continued to expand it throughout his life.Whitman's poetry was unprecedented in its unapologetic joy in the physical and its inextricable link to the spiritual.As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote to him:"I am very happy in reading [Leaves of Grass], as great power makes us happy ... I find incomparable things said incomparably well, as they must be." ... Read more

Customer Reviews (97)

5-0 out of 5 stars Correct edition, finally
Leaves of Grass is in the public domain, but I couldn't find a free copy of the 1855 first edition in eBook format anywhere. Here it is at a modest price.

If you're looking for a definitive Walt Whitman collection, look elsewhere. If you're looking for the vanguard of the first edition, this is your mark.

2-0 out of 5 stars Bold Faced Thoughts:Confusing
The bold faced comments by Laura Ross are frustrating.Who cares what she thinks?It would have been much more appropriate and an easier read without them.The thoughts are not sensitive to the original - seems lick a gemick.
Not happy with the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tai's QuickViews: Five Stars
With so much enlightening prose to choose from, here's a sample from '32':

I think I could turn and live with animals.
they are so placid and self-contained.
I stand and look at them long and long.
they do not sweat and wine about their condition.
they do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
they do not make me sick discussing their duty to god.
not one is dissatisfied.
not one is demented with a mania of owning things.
not one knees to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago.
not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

2-0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition
The Kindle edition of this great book is not well formatted, and is thus physically difficult to read. Line breaks appear in the middle of words, not always divided by syllable or in a way that would meet the approval of any author of a manual of style.

Having only paid 99 cents for this tome, I can only comment that I suppose I got what I paid for.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Quite the "Original" Edition
While I love Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," I wouldn't quite consider this a reproduction of the "original" edition.The editor has highlighted certain passages in green, and added commentary and exercises at the end of each poem.I suspect lots of folks won't mind this.For me it's cause enough to return the book.

I pre-ordered this item because I was intent on finding an edition with the 1855 preface, but without some new person's additions to the classic work.I very much would like to read the work as Whitman presented it, without interjections from an editor or some other new person whose voice for me is an interruption.

This editor presents this work as a means for writers to find inspiration for their own work, and attempts to guide or at least aid the reader in that project.For someone like me, for whom writing (and reading) is intensely personal, and who prefers to work directly with the text, without intervention, this is just not the right book. ... Read more

6. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography
by David S. Reynolds
Paperback: 671 Pages (1996-03-19)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679767096
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This comprehensive, original portrait of the life and work of one of America's greatest poets--set in the social, cultural, and political context of his time--considers the full range of writings by and about Whitman, including his early poems and stories, his conversations, letters, journals, newspaper writings, and day books. of photos.Amazon.com Review
The greatest American poet is portrayed in this monumentalbiography as an essential American, not an isolated mystic but a manformed in large measure by his rapidly changing society.Drawing onhis diligent research, and on his experience writing the monumentalwork Beneath the AmericanRenaissance, noted scholar David S. Reynolds conclusivelydemonstrates the profound impact the popular culture of his day had onWhitman's awakening as an artist. This copious (nearly 700page) volume tells the story of 19th-century America as well as thestory of the Whitman himself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitive Work

I came to this throughWaking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson (American History) in which David Reynolds showed himself to be a gifted writer.I was not disappointed in reading this earlier work. While I waited for this copy, I read Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples, which, I also recommend, but if you read it, read it after this book, not before it as I did.

Reynolds shows how Whitman was of his culture and why he is an authentic American voice.Whitman gave the new country a new poetry, a poetry that broke the bounds of format and content. He gave poetry zest, a proud "I" and what we consider today, a healthy view of the body and sex. The cultural biography concept is most appropriate for this poet.

Reynolds draws the picture of the world that shaped Whitman, and then the greatly changed world following the Civil War. Following President Polk, the nation seemed to be drifting. There was economic and political turmoil. The long festering problem of slavery was coming to a boil.It was in this period that Whitman did the work we remember him for.

Reynolds reminds us that in Whitman's time, the continued unification of the states was not a settled issue. Whitman wrote of the unity of all the people and parts of the country.He wrote that he was a poet for slave and master, the man and the woman.When he wrote that he Heard America Singing and named all the classes and their endeavors, he was extolling the united country. His hope was that he was contributing to unification, not "disunification" a role he saw the abolitionists and the suffragettes and other reformers as playing.

The poems, as Reynolds shows, were only one side of Whitman. Many, who know him only as an icon would be surprised by this views on race, on capitalism and how he managed his image.

This book is well researched.The author develops and presents his ideas with clarity. It is not for everyone. It's long and, while it is well written, it might not sustain your interest unless you have an interest in Whitman or the culture of his time(s). Reynolds' more recent book, mentioned earlier, which profiles the country in the early part of the 19th century, should have broader appeal.

5-0 out of 5 stars A thorough bio that depicts a complicated man
Very thorough biography that refuses to give us a simple overall character of Whitman. Whitman was a complicated man, often living an ironically different life than the words he left behind. Reynolds discusses Whitman, his work, and his sexuality all within the context of the changing times of 19th century America - keeping in mind that Whitman lived through most of that century and watched as its values and interests changed around him (and he adapted as necessary). Reynolds's style is also very engaging and easy to follow.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Supplemental Text
As one who holds a degree in American Studies (M.A., Baylor), I've lamented the lack of good books on American culture.When I was teaching (see "My Calvin Seminary Story") a course related to American culture I searched far and wide for something very readable that gives the background of life as we know it today.These chapters explore every facet of American culture from religion and race to sexuality and slavery and social status.The arts, politics, and the idea of democracy are also featured.This book is not just for historians.It's for anyone interested in American culture and it would make a great supplemental text in courses on American history and culture--or for a course like the one I taught, The Gospel and American Culture.If nothing else, it is a great resource to have on your bookcase shelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cultural Biography
Whitman was a difficult man and poet. Obviously, if it were not for the poetry, no one would think about him at all today, but oddly what makes this book so good is its long look at 19th century America through Whitman's life experience rather than his words. There are not many quotes from the poems and they're not really missed, in fact some of the best are not even mentioned. It's interesting to compare the life work of a poet and the age he lived in, especially someone like Walt Whitman, so sensitive and hopeful, at the same time living in the what is, for most of us, alternate universe of same sex attraction. Anyway, one's liking or disliking of Whitman does not affect one's enjoyment of this book, which is, as the title tells us, about America during Whitman's life. All of the major topics of the book: politics, homoeroticism, intellectual and religious movements, the growth of the cities, family life,have infinite possibilities and Reynolds does a good job of presenting an appetizing amount of information.He has a very balanced approach to topics quite liable to unbalance an author, I'm thinking especially of homosexuality and politics of the 1850s.And it was very interesting to know that censorship of Whitman was directed at the heterosexual images in the poems. One tends to forget how frigid society was in the Victorian age, how far it is from then to now and Howard Stern.

Reynolds also does a good job of describing Whitman's own ambitions and efforts at persona management. Poets are now so unpopular and so much in a realm of their own that we are surprised that the father of modern poetry hoped to be quoted frequently and by all types. It wasn't unreasonable: Longfellow was immensely popular and so was Whittier, but Whitman who, at least took up topics that still interest us, willfully insisted on a style that made his work very difficult to memorize. His one so to say singable verse, "Oh Captain" was popular and memorized. It was still included in old high school poetry textbooks when I was young - forty-five years ago - but I think has been now forgotten.And Reynolds depicts the aging Whitman trying to patch up and sustain a consistent public image. This too is interestingbecause this really did work. Whitman was the American image of a poet for quite a while. Nobody knows what Longfellow looked like, Poe certainly doesn't fit the part, and jumping to the 20th century, T. S. Eliot, though great, looks too constipated, in other words that avuncular Face easily confused with Santa meant uplifting and benevolent poetry to people who had never read and never would read a word of it.

All in all, highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best biography of Whitman available
I'm a latecomer to Whitman's work, only really discovering it in the past decade. (I'm in my 40s.) It was Reynold's book Beneath the American Renaissance that prodded me in this direction, and, naturally, I wanted to read his more complete take on Walt.

What stands out in this book is the way Reynolds weaves together not only Whitman's life but also the context of the period, which makes it so much easier to understand what Walt was saying. Reynolds is without doubt the best explainer of this period, as it applies to literature, and reading this book is both a pleasure and an enlightening experience, providing a history lesson at the same time as it looks at Whitman's writings.

A must-read book for any Whitman fan. ... Read more

7. Walt Whitman: A Life (Perennial Classics)
by Justin Kaplan
Paperback: 464 Pages (2003-07-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060535113
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Whitman's genius, passions, poetry, and androgynous sensibility entwined to create an exuberant life amid the turbulent American mid-nineteenth century. In vivid detail, Kaplan examines the mysterious selves of the enigmatic man who celebrated the freedom and dignity of the individual and sang the praises of democracy and the brotherhood of man.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars whitman revealed
There isn't much by way of analysis of the poems, but there is a trove of information about Whitman the poet andenigmatic man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Walt Whitman's Life and Work Considered in the 21st Century.
When I was young, I was told that Walt Whitman was a marvelous poet.I read some
parts of Leaves of Grass but I was not impressed.Now, when I am old,I have
recently met a young poet who thinks highly of Whitman as the Father of
Modern American Poetry.Therefore, I decided to try him again.
I bought a copy of Leaves of Grass with an introduction by Justin Kaplan.
First I read Kaplan's introduction; then I read Leaves of Grass four times.
After the second reading, I finally 'got it'.Then I wanted to learn more
about Whitman so I sent for Kaplan's biography of Whitman.
I found this biography answered many questions I had about Whitman's life.
Kaplan's writing is very accessible and extremely informative.He cites
contemporary sources for facts about Whitman's life.I would recommend
this book highly to anyone who wants to know more about Walt Whitman.
(I just hope my review comes through cyberspace intact.This space keeps
cutting off the ends of words.) ... Read more

8. The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War
by Roy Morris
Paperback: 288 Pages (2001-12-20)
list price: US$39.99 -- used & new: US$4.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 019514709X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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For nearly three years, Walt Whitman immersed himself in the devastation of the Civil War, tending to thousands of wounded soldiers and recording his experiences with an immediacy and compassion unequaled in wartime literature anywhere in the world.
In The Better Angel, acclaimed biographer Roy Morris, Jr. gives us the fullest account of Whitman's profoundly transformative Civil War years and an historically invaluable examination of the Union's treatment of its sick and wounded. Whitman was mired in depression as the war began, subsisting on journalistic hackwork, his "great career" as a poet apparently stalled. But when news came that his brother George had been wounded at Fredericksburg, Whitman rushed south to find him. Deeply affected by his first view of the war's casualties, he began visiting the camp's wounded and found his calling for the duration of the war. Three years later, he emerged as the war's "most unlikely hero," a living symbol of American democratic ideals of sharing and brotherhood.
Brilliantly researched and beautifully written, The Better Angel explores a side of Whitman not fully examined before, one that greatly enriches our understanding of his later poetry. Moreover, it gives us a vivid and unforgettable portrait of the "other army"--the legions of sick and wounded soldiers who are usually left in the shadowy background of Civil War history--seen here through the unflinching eyes of America's greatest poet. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Flawed Angel
This book chronicles the life of Walt Whitman during and after the Civil War. It quotes liberally from the poems and from Whitman's copious letters to his mother and various friends as it describes the poet's years of service spent tending and cheering up the wounded soldiers.
The author describes in detail the terrible conditions on the battlefield, in military prisons on both sides, and in the improvised hospitals. Medicine in this period was primitive and sanitation almost unknown; there were more deaths from disease than from combat wounds.
The book is also instructive about the progress of the Civil War itself, alongside the poet's experience of it.

Whitman was a Santa-like figure, coming into the wards every day, sometimes twice a day, bearded, large, and robust, bearing a knapsack of candies, fruit, and other treats for the patients. He sat bedside watch for soldier after soldier as they agonized and died, consoling them, letting them dictate letters home, and providing whatever comfort he could. His own mental and physical health were finally compromised by the countless deaths he attended and the disease-ridden conditions in the hospitals, some of them no more than tents hastily put up to house the thousands of wounded and dying who poured endlessly into the Capital.

The author treats Whitman's sexual orientation tactfully and usefully. In that period of history, same-sex romantic affection was not uncommon. Furthermore, Whitman's passions were for the most part unselfish and motivated by love and a compulsion to help alleviate suffering. He had many platonic male friends with whom he kept up a lifelong affectionate correspondence, and who wrote him passionate letters even as they married and had families. While he lusted after many a suffering young soldier, his outpouring of love and generosity were spontaneous and amazing. The author refers to him as lover, brother, father, mother, and friend all in one.
Whitman was a devoted son and brother as well as a tenderhearted friend. However, he turns out to be a complex character: he shared the racist sentiments of many of his countrymen and thought that freeing the slaves was not worth fighting a civil war over. He sang the praises of blonde, fair-skinned youths and found their black counterparts undesirable. So enamored was he by youthful white male beauty that he even lauded the attractiveness of Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth, thought to be one of the handsomest men in America: "...dress'd in plain black broadcloth, bare-headed, with a full head of glossy, raven hair, and his eyes like some mad animal's flashing with light and resolution, yet with a certain strange calmness..."

In the final chapters, we read about Whitman's feelings for President Lincoln; interwoven in these chapters are sections of his gorgeous tragic poem "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed." It's instructive to see Walt Whitman as a human being with flaws, but the overall picture is indeed that of an angel.

5-0 out of 5 stars A lovingly wrought tale
Just as Walt Whitman tended to wounded soldiers during the Civil War, author Roy Morris has tended to this sad and moving story.What could have been mere history becomes much more, touched with tender tales, eloquence, and sadness.Morris deftly weaves Whitman's Civil War poetry into the narrative but also adds his own well-wrought phrases to make a highly readable and compelling book.Those who know Whitman will come away thankful for this fuller exegesis of just a few years in his life.Those who don't know Whitman will marvel at the man and perhaps even begin their own long career of reading him."The Better Angel" now goes on my shelf next to Justin Kaplan's Whitman bio, one to be savored, one for the ages.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Moving Biography
A beautiful narrative, expertly and movingly told, creates a vivid portrait of an extraordinary human being.His poetry is facially incidental, but is so interwoven in the telling that it adds greatly to the story and is itself illuminated.For me, this can only be 5 Stars.

4-0 out of 5 stars We could use a Walt Whitman for today
For those who are new to Walt Whitman, during the civil war he basically went around the hospitals of Washington DC to tend for and cheer up wounded soldiers. For those that survived, they would write Whitman thanking him for keeping their spirits up. Just as Whitman disolves the boundary between reader and writer (like Van Gogh with paint)... Roy Morris makes you forget you are reading history. Its a cliche, but the period comes alive in his writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Whitman: Poet and nurse
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Walt Whitman wrote the patriotic poem "Beat! Beat! Drums!" as his early contribution to the war effort. His brother George enlisted in the army and after he was wounded at Fredericksburg, Walt went to nurse him. Seeing the suffering of the wounded men moved him greatly, and he volunteered in the military hospitals in Washington. Faithfully Whitman attended to the wounded. Two volumes came out of this experience: DRUM-TAPS (poems) and SPECIMEN DAYS (reminiscences). He made many friends in the hospitals. It's this period in Whitman's life that Morris writes about. He captures the despair and courage that all were going through well. He looks at the poems produced by Whitman during this time as well at Whitman the man. Years later Whitman was dismayed that the war for most people had faded into distant memory. As a detailed look at a relatively short (though profound) period in Whitman's life, Morris's book will not fade into distant memory for most who read it. ... Read more

9. The Portable Walt Whitman (Penguin Classics)
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 608 Pages (2003-12-30)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142437689
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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When Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass in 1855 it was a slim volume of twelve poems and he was a journalist and poet from Long Island, little-known but full of ambition and poetic fire. To give a new voice to the new nation shaken by civil war, he spent his entire life revising and adding to the work, but his initial act of bravado in answering Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for a national poet has made Whitman the quintessential American writer. This rich cross-section of his work includes poems from throughout Whitman's lifetime as published on his deathbed edition of 1891, short stories, his prefaces to the many editions of Leaves of Grass, and a variety of prose selections, including Democratic Vistas, Specimen Days, and Slang in America. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars The great American poet
Whitman is the great American poet. Emily Dickinson has a greatness more metaphorically striking and acutely original in thought. And Wallace Stevens has a music which in its intellectual complexity perhaps transcends that of Whitman.
But Whitman is as Emerson rightly understood the essential American poet.
He is the voice of the new world, of a new land, of a new conception of mankind greater and more hopeful than any seen before. He is the cataloguer of continents and the master maker of the music of ordinary places and people.
He feels most deeply into the American story and is the great democrat of American poetry. His long lines have a freedom and a sense of expansiveness which embrace worlds and celebrate the sights and sounds of his native land. He more than anyone understood the poetry of American place-names. And he had a feeling for the natural motion of America's teeming new cities and long distant shores.
His 'Song of the Self' is a heroic American assertion of Mankind in its great exuberance of hopefulness. Yet no one more than him felt the pain of America's Civil War and its suffering, the lilacs that last in the dooryard bloomed.
There are certain parts of his great poem, set pieces such as 'When I heard the learned Astronomer ' or his lines on the observation of Animals that provide a kind of wake- up shock, a kind of revelation of Thought as Beauty.
He is the definitive American poet, whether we like every aspect of his barbaric yawp or not. Or whether we sometimes feel that his celebrations are misplaced and his self- singings mere aggrandizements.
The great continent, the great Westward expansion, the great thriving of a new world is as he pictured it a sequence of ever- expanding circles of a cosmos becoming greater and greater in time. And he gives that feeling, gives the sense that life has in it some mysterious greatness that moves us always to be more in the future than we can dream we are now.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovingly written, compiled and edited.
This wonderful edition features a judicious selection of Walt Whitman's poetry and essays, edited by distinguished literary critic Mark Van Doren (who is perhaps now as well known for being the father of Ralph Fiennes' character in 'Quiz Show' as he is for his erudition).

Van Doren's preface, itself a famous piece of work, accounts for both the best and worst of Whitman's creations (Van Doren seemed to share Randall Jarrell's view that we can only appreciate the best of Whitman's poetry by acknowledging the depths of his worst work), and seeks to locate the personal Whitman within his verses. This essay alone is arguably worth the price of purchase.

What really sets this anthology apart from others like it, though, is the manner in which Van Doren takes his argument - that Whitman's work was always intimate, even though its themes were variously epical or universal - and applies it to his selection of poems. In inevitable inclusions such as 'Song of Myself', 'Mannahatta' and 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry', we see Whitman the oracular poet, bringing into his egalitarian imagination the disparate bustle and brio of nineteenth-century New York and ordering them in verse. But when we read alongisde these poems 'Ashes of Soldiers', 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd', 'Native Moments' and 'Once I Pass'd through a Populous City', we begin to recognise the truth in Van Doren's thesis. Whitman's fear of death, his concern for the memories of the individual dead (as we see in 'As Toilsome I Wander'd Virginia's Woods'), and his nascently homerotic fascination with his own body (he writes in 'As Adam Early in the Morning', 'Touch me, touch the palm of your hand to my body as I pass,/ Be not afraid of my body'), complement those aspects of his poetry for which he is perhaps most famous: his mythical imagination, exclamatory verse, and descriptive catalogues of local people and places, which remind me of Homeric battle lists, except that they are predicated upon peace, not war.

Combined with his eloquent prose accounts of his activities as a nurse during the Civil War, his letters, and his thoughtful, incisive tributes to those he recognised as great poets (his critical work occasionally resembles the scrupulous excellence of Samuel Johnson), Whitman's poetry discloses subtle resonances that readers might otherwise be inclined to overlook, or forget. Long-time admirers of Whitman will be overjoyed by this classic edition of his work. Those who haven't yet experienced the joys of his language could do worse than look here for a comprehensive overview of his oeuvre.

5-0 out of 5 stars Natural Poetry
Not having read the entire book yet, I am not eligible for evaluating it as a whole. However, the poems that I have read amaze me and they are thereason why I call Whitman my favourite poet.

First and foremost, Whitmanfollows Emerson's thread of thougth in his nature-loving poetry, butWhitman allows himself fewer limits: He not only writes in free verse, healso writes explicitly about his sexuality.

His power, though, lies inhis ability to take everyday things and use them in what we might callcatalogue rhetoric: In a way he is just making drafts without logics. Thisis his way of putting everyday America into a poem. And it works. We maywonder what his point is, but Whitman is about sensation, not logics, andthe feeling you experience when you read 'Song of Myself', his masterpiece,is truly unique. It is the same feeling you have when you see a beautfulforest or sunset. This is poetry at its best. ... Read more

10. Drum Taps
by Walt Whitman
 Hardcover: 60 Pages (2010-09-10)
list price: US$25.56 -- used & new: US$24.24
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Asin: 1169213766
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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The brigade of Virginia and Maryland have march'd forth to intercept the enemy, They are cut off, murderous artillery from the hills plays upon them, Rank after rank falls, while over them silently droops the flag, Baptized that day in many a young man's bloody wounds, In death, defeat, and sisters', mothers' tears. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars Worthless Purchase.
This "book" -- and I use the term lightly because it is really little more than a photocopy with a slick cover stapled over it -- is not worth purchasing. It provides only the poems from Whitman's Drum-Taps which can be found in any collected edition of the poet's work; in other words, for the same price, you can have all of his poems, not just these. I purchased this book in the hopes it would be the original 1865 edition of these poems, but it's not -- just the revised versions (the poems changed dramatically over the years) rearranged in the original order. What a waste. ... Read more

11. Whitman: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)
by Walt Whitman
Hardcover: 256 Pages (1994-10-18)
list price: US$13.50 -- used & new: US$7.20
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Asin: 0679436324
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Everyman's Library Pocket Poets hardcover series is popular for its compact size and reasonable price which does not compromise content. Poems: Whitman contains forty-two of the American master's poems, including "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "Song of Myself," "I Hear America Singing," "Halcyon Days," and an index of first lines. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a perfect selection, but very close and perfect for carrying
Any selection of a great poet is going to leave any fan of that poet disappointed.With Whitman this is complicated by the 1855 LEAVES OF GRASS with the 1891-92 LEAVES OF GRASS.Many prefer the 1855 version of "Song of Myself."This collection uses the 1891-92 versions of the poems.I will confess that I prefer the later versions in almost every instance.For instance, I much prefer the later version of the accounting of the John Paul Jones victory over the British in "Song of Myself" XXXV.

The poems that I particularly regretted not being included in this are "Song of the Open Road" and "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer."There are others, but those are two I often read.But to be fair, most of Whitman's great work is contained in two poems, the magisterial "Song of Myself" and the passionate "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry."I've never warmed up to such old chestnuts as "I Hear America Singing" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," but I can and have read "Song of Myself" and "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" countless times.In fact, the reason I wanted a highly portable, but attractive edition of Whitman's poems was so that I could carry it about with me.One of the few books that I've come very close to wearing out (and I treat my books with great care) is the Library of America edition of Whitman's poetry and prose.But it simply doesn't fit into a messenger bag.This lovely little Everyman edition does.

So while this slender little volume doesn't quite have my ideal collection of Whitman's poems, it does at least have the most essential.And the book itself is lovely and inviting.I heartily recommend it to anyone desiring a choice selection of Whitman's poetry to carry with them either into the woods or onto a commuter train. ... Read more

12. Walt Whitman: Words For America (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards))
by Barbara Kerley
Hardcover: 56 Pages (2004-10-01)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0439357918
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Did you know that poet Walt Whitman was also a Civil War nurse? Devastated by his country dividing and compelled to service by his brother's war injury, Walt nursed all soldiers-Union & Confederate, black & white. By getting to know them through many intense and affecting experiences, he began to see a greater life purpose: His writing could give these men a voice, & in turn, achieve his greatest aspiration--to capture the true spirit of America. Dramatic, powerful, & deeply moving, this consummate portrait of Whitman will inspire readers to pick up their pens & open their hearts to humanity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

1-0 out of 5 stars "Nonfiction" -- Walt Whitman
This is an extremely bias book that portrays Whitman as a lover of the "common people" and as a true red-blooded, patriotic, heroic American (complete propaganda for the U.S..)Extremely questionable "facts" are included that assume Whitman was in favor of the abolition of slavery and would constantly see Abraham Lincoln trotting by on Whitman's way to work.While the aforementioned may be true (no sources listed), I don't think I can believe it based on his quoted disgust of Mexico when America wanted its land.Additionally, the language and imagery of this book may make it uninteresting to children. +1 for the interesting variety of page formats throughout the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Poet for America
WALT WHITMAN: words for America by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Brian Selznick is an award winning pictorial exploration of the life of the life of the father of American poetry. The illustrations are outstanding and the simple explanation of a very complex man are the strength of the narrative. Especially thought provoking are the illustrations of Whitman's change in attitude towards Lincoln as taken from his own words. Whitman's words are strong and speak to the heart of children. The is a fine introduction to the growth and development of American poetry.
Nash Black, author of the haunting Christmas story, TRAVELERS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Barbara Kerley's Walt Whitman
This book is a beautiful work of art.I am happy to see that it has won so many awards for the illustrations.I have learned a lot about Mr Whitman through this book and it has made me want to read more of his work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Superlative biography for young readers!
This beautiful, well-written book even gives middle-schoolers a taste of literary criticsm. The text is adequate and sometimes even moving, working well with the decadent illustrations. My favorite thing about it is its depiction of Whitman's feelings about Lincoln, since many kids will only know Lincoln from the penny.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fantastic journey into the life of America's poet
I am doing my Masters Project on the life of Walt Whitman during the Civil War. Though this book does not add anything new to my project, I am including it in my Bibliography because it is a book I think everyone should read.Yes, it is a children's book, but it accurately portrays the life of Whitman from the time he was a child to the time of his death.I particularly like the section about the Civil War and I know that the author has all the facts correct.What makes this book such a great reading experience is the accompanying art work on each page.The art is exceptional and adds to the reading experience.Whether you are a child or an adult with a passing interest in Whitman, this book should be on the top of your reading list.

My favorite page is the one directly after the Civil War spread.It contains the portraits of Civil War soldiers.What makes this special is that each picture is based on an actual photo of real people, and the one portrait in color is really Whitman's brother George (I am using the same picture in my Masters Project).Each painting of the portrait really captures the expression of the soldiers.My other favorite painting is the close up of Whitman's face as an old man at the end of the book. The sparkle in his eye captures the sparkle in the man's entire life.

This is a fantastic book that I highly recommend. You should look at it as an experience - it is not a complete biography of America's famous poet, but an interactive experience between the important events in his life and the paintings that convey meaning and significance.I am very happy I came across this book, and I think everyone who buys and reads this book will also be impressed. ... Read more

13. Song of Myself: And Other Poems by Walt Whitman
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2010-02-01)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$14.60
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Asin: 1582435715
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Walt Whitman was deeply interested in the American language as it was emerging in his time. He was fascinated by the vocabularies of the sciences and the streets, and was a regular visitor to the New York Public Library, where he loved to peer into the provenience of the words he overheard and read. In this beautiful book, Robert Hass and Paul Ebencamp walk us through Whitman's "Song of Myself"—one of the greatest poems in American literature. Much is revealed about the words Whitman chose in 1855—their inflections, meanings, and native usages we wouldn't otherwise know. In doing so, we understand perhaps for the first time, Whitman's query in Song of Myself: "Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?" In the first part of the collection, Hass an introduction to the poem and, with Paul Ebenkamp, a rich annotation of "Song of Myself"—both the first version from the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, and the final, revised text that appeared in the so-called "Deathbed" edition of 1892. The second part of this book includes a selection of poems from across the span of Whitman's career that gives us a fresh look at Whitman's work.
... Read more

14. Walt Whitman's Civil War (A Da Capo Paperback)
by Walter Lowenfels
Paperback: 368 Pages (1989-03-22)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0306803550
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In 1863 Walt Whitman first proposed to the publisher John Redpath a book about his Civil War experiences. It was never published. But in a draft prospectus Whitman described ”a new book . . . with its framework jotted down on the battlefield, in the shelter tent, by the wayside amid the rubble of passing artillery trains or the moving cavalry in the streets of Washington . . . a book full of the blood and vitality of the American people.” Walter Lowenfels has edited the book Whitman could only envision. From a mosaic of materials—newspaper dispatches, letters, notebooks, published and unpublished works—as well as thirty-six of Whitman’s great war poems, Lowenfels has created a thrilling and unique document. Sixteen pages of drawings by Winslow Homer, another distinguished eyewitness, are reproduced here from the artist’s field sketches. The result is a book that produces in the reader exactly what Whitman had hoped, one that captures ”part of the actual distraction, heat, smoke, and excitement of those times.”
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Poetic Civil War
Whitman's book brings together his work from his journals and letters he wrote through out the entire war.As a nurse, Whitman tours hospitals and writes about the brutal realities of the war.His compassion for the wounded and sympathies radiates through out all of his work as he writes about various soldiers and his correspondence with them.With each chapter in the book we are treated to poems and scripture by Whitman that compliments his letters and journal entries.Whitman covers the entire war and it's easy to get a feel for his absolute care and love he had for the soldiers he tended to and visited.It's helpful for understanding just how horrible situations for many were and just what kind of man Whitman was. I highly recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Reference for Whitman's Civil War Journals
Walt Whitman wrote many journals, letters and diaries during his years volunteering at the hospitals in Washington DC.There are many books out there which claim to combine all those elements into one book.This book does a great job keeping Whitman's actual writing--in other words, the entire passage is presented, including the date and location in which it was written.The major problem with this book is that the editor decided to break all of Whitman's work into Chapters with themes.There is a chapter about letter to his mother, about letters to soldiers, about observations of soldiers, etc.This means that the book is not chronological, meaning that in order to view all of Whitman's writing in the order he actually wrote it, you must jump all over this book.I am studying Whitman during the Civil War, and I use this book for most of my reference.But you should see how I have marked it, leaving notes all over the book to remind myself the order of the passages.There needs to be at least one book that has EVERYTHING in the order it was written.Despite this, this book is very good for anyone interested in getting a sense of what Whitman was doing during the Civil War.His language is easy to read and understand, and readers can skip to the chapters that interest them.I do recommend this book, but remember, the passages are not in order. ... Read more

15. Re-Scripting Walt Whitman: An Introduction to His Life and Work (Blackwell Introductions to Literature)
by Kenneth Price, Ed Folsom
Paperback: 176 Pages (2005-08-26)
list price: US$33.95 -- used & new: US$27.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1405118180
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This introductory guide to Walt Whitman weaves together the writer’s life with an examination of his works.

· An innovative introductory guide to Walt Whitman.

· Weaves together the writer’s life with an examination of his works.

· Focuses especially on Whitman’s evolving masterpiece Leaves of Grass.

· Examines the material conditions and products of Whitman’s “scripted life”, including his original manuscripts.

· Investigates Whitman’s “life in print” – his belief that he could literally embody himself in his books.

· Linked to a large electronic archive of Whitman’s work at www.whitmanarchive.org ... Read more

16. Selections from Leaves of Grass By Walt Whitman
by Walt Whitman
Hardcover: 110 Pages (1961)
-- used & new: US$8.00
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Asin: B000E5DR38
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Hardcover book with title information in gold. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book for any Whitman Fan
I have wanted this book for a long time and thanks to Amazon, I found a really nice one at a very reasonable price. ... Read more

17. To Walt Whitman, America
by Kenneth M. Price
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-03-29)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$0.84
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Asin: 0807855189
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Walt Whitman "is America," according to Ezra Pound. More than a century after his death, Whitman's name regularly appears in political speeches, architectural inscriptions, television programs, and films, and it adorns schools, summer camps, truck stops, corporate centers, and shopping malls. In an analysis of Whitman as a quintessential American icon, Kenneth Price shows how his ubiquity and his extraordinarily malleable identity have contributed to the ongoing process of shaping the character of the United States.

Price examines Whitman's own writings as well as those of writers who were influenced by him, paying particular attention to Whitman's legacies for an ethnically and sexually diverse America. He focuses on fictional works by Edith Wharton, D. H. Lawrence, John Dos Passos, Ishmael Reed, and Gloria Naylor, among others. In Price's study, Leaves of Grass emerges as a living document accruing meanings that evolve with time and with new readers, with Whitman and his words regularly pulled into debates over immigration, politics, sexuality, and national identity. As Price demonstrates, Whitman is a recurring starting point, a provocation, and an irresistible, rewritable text for those who reinvent the icon in their efforts to remake America itself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Satisfies But Does Not Stupefy
I come back to Walt Whitman,
What in the hell happened to him,
Wasn't he a white man?
--June Jordan

Here is something rare these days, like spats or an Edsel: a review of a book about a poet in a popular press publication. No worries though, this is not primarily about poetry but rather the arts, culture and social change in America. I might venture a review of a book of poems next time.

Kenneth Price's slim volume is not hot off the press. It is two years old, and viewable in its entirety, including photographs and notes, at The Whitman Archive. How's that for a bookseller subverting his own business? I went ahead and procured the trade paperback anyhow; for me, reading online gets old quick, and I never tire of the sensual experience a real book provides.

If you have ever wondered about the persistent hype regarding the 19th century poet in question, this is one of the three books I recommend**. Price reveals one surprising connection after another between Whitman, art, novels, film and even a speech by Muhammad Ali. With the sparse elegance of a poet, the author pinpoints the profound influence Walt's writing had on developments in gender relations, sexuality, race and creative expression over the last 150 years. Price emulates his subject, and calls up the marginalized identity in America and abroad, deftly empowering each distinctive voice.

It makes sense that, in this town (written originally for AnythingArts Newsletter in Sarasota/Bradenton), enamored as it is with art and films, readers will find To Walt Whitman, America engrossing. Perhaps the only thing some may find problematic about Price is that he has a way of making a reader hungry for more. That is a clue to the great thing about this cultural document. It satisfies but does not stupefy. He has effectively set out both the 21st century academic mandate for continued exploration of Whitman's influence; and, a call for the artistic quest of reinvention. Price reminds us that Whitman's malleability, explorations of passing, and centrality as an icon have made him irresistible for writers [artists and filmmakers] who, in extraordinarily creative ways, reinvent him for their purposes.


**The others are Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song, Edited by Jim Perlman, Ed Folsom & Dan Campion; and Walt Whitman: A Cultural Biography, by David Reynolds. ... Read more

18. Walt Whitman: Selected Poems 1855-1892
by Walt Whitman
Paperback: 560 Pages (2000-09-20)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$11.72
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Asin: 0312267908
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A century after his death, Whitman is still celebrated as America's greatest poet. In this startling new edition of his work, Whitman biographer Gary Schmidgall presents over two hundred poems in their original pristine form, in the chronological order in which they were written, with Whitman's original line breaks and punctuation. Included in this volume are facsimilies of Whitman's original manuscripts, contemporary-- and generally blistering-- reviews of Whitman's poetry (not surprisingly Henry James hated it), and early pre-Leaves of Grass poems that return us to the physical Whitman, rejoicing-- sometimes graphically-- in homoerotic love.

Unlike the many other available editions, all drawn from the final authorized or "deathbed" Leaves of Grass, this collection focuses on the exuberant poems Whitman wrote during the creative and sexual prime of his life, roughly between 1853 and 1860. These poems are faithfully presented as Whitman first gave them to the world-- fearless, explicit, and uncompromised-- before he transformed himself into America's respectable, mainstream Good Gray Poet through thirty years of revision, self-censorship, and suppression.

Whitman admitted that his later poetry lacked the "ecstasy of statement" of his early verse. Revealing that ecstasy for the first time, this edition makes possible a major reappraisal of our nation's first great poet.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars An exceptional edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and related writings
What are characteristics of Leaves of Grass that are uncommon in literary masterworks?It was originally published anonymously.It was originally self-published.Whitman paid to have it printed & bound.While most books are published and never significantly revised, "L of G" was a lifelong work in progress, revised repeatedly, changing as the author changed.There are many "Leaves of Grass" publications for sale.I recommend this version for the following reasons:

a)The poems are presented in groupings, showing the development of the poetry collection over Whitman's lifetime, from the brief 1855 first edition, through the many different editions, up to the expansive 1991-92 edition.This edition focuses on the first version of each poem before Whitman's later versions "toned down" some of his verse.
b)In addition to introductory comments, this edition includes the various prefaces, unpublished introductions, & "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads" from the original "L of G" publications.
c)It includes Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous congratulatory letter and Whitmans' reply letter.
d)It includes contemporary reviews (including those written by Whitman himself) from 1855 to 1891
e)It includes a historical timeline of Whitman's life.
f)It is a large page format, easy to read, splay out, underline, and write in the margins.
g)It includes one version of many of the Leaves of Grass poems.If this version also included many of the revisions, showing the edits of the poems, I would like this version even more (look at Bartleby's online for more information about the various versions of each poem).

Leaves of Grass is "too much" for many people.It can be critiqued as hyperbole and excess.To suggest it is not in praise of overt sexuality would be like suggesting to mothers that babies still come from storks.To suggest it is not about homosexuality and bisexuality would be like suggesting 101 Dalmations isn't about puppies.In fact, when I think of Whitman, the word "too" is the most common word that comes to mind.He is too ____ (fill in the blank).

What inspired this man to create this landmark American sexual and emotional statement?Many things.Paramount among those things was Loss.Loss of old loves: "Doubtless I could not have perceived the universe, or written one of my poems, if I had not freely given myself to comrades, to love." and "(I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not return'd; Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)"Loss of Lincoln inspired "Drum-Taps" and "Sequel to Drum-Taps".Loss of youth, health, & pleasures inspired him to write.And I think he wrote for the 4 purposes George Orwell suggested writers write:Sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse ("to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity"), and political purpose.

Whether or not Whitman's perspectives are correct or good, he said things that most people have feared to say so strongly.His words have been criticized as base, vile, and shameful, but they are also free speech expression.I don't know if I can say I'm a big fan of Whitman, but I can say that I'm glad to live under laws that have allowed him to speak his inner mind.And I promote environments & protections that safeguard such expressions.

Following his beloved Abraham Lincoln's assassination, he mourned without reservation, "O Captain! my captain! rise up and hear the bells . . . For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning . . . My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will."As "Dead Poets Society" so capably conveyed, "Leaves of Grass" is about passion - unabashed American passions.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Leaves We've Always Wanted!
To date, I think I own about four different copies of Whitman's grand opus "Leaves of Grass". One is a deathbed edition, printed in 1922, that is hardcover yet pocket sized and great for a backpack. The second is an 1855 reprint of a "first edition" sold by a major bookstore chain. The third is another 1855 reprint in paperback. And now the fourth, which is this one, and without a doubt, the best of the bunch!

Walt Whitman, throughout his years, wrote and rewrote Leaves of Grass many times, for each subsequent reprint. Much of the later editions of the book become watered down and less potent, according to editor Gary Schmidgall, of which I heartily agree. The final "deathbed" edition of Leaves of Grass, released around the time of Whit's death, varies tremendously from the rich dance of the first edition, in fact, the first three editions.

After reading Schmidgall's amazing book, "Walt Whitman: A Gay Life", you come quickly appreciate Whitman's 1860 edition of the book, the third, released just before the Civil War. Upon searching for a copy of this book, it's virtually hard to find, and I ended up downloading some of the poetry off the Whitman archives website. But Schmidgall painstakingly has recreated that edition, rebuilding such moving sections of the book like Calamus.

It's in Schmidgall's edition that the true genius of Whitman comes alive. He becomes more real, more in depth, and shows more pain than in any other edition I've read. It's too bad that Whit decided to censor his writings as he aged, for he tends to weed out the roses with the dandelions. Schmidgall replants Whitman's glorious garden, and we, as readers, get to reap the visual brilliance of it all.

5-0 out of 5 stars the original, un-self-censored Whitman
There was a time I didn't much care for Whitman's poetry -- what seemed to me its self-conscious pretentiousness was a turn-off. (Whitman himself acknowledged that his style was all-too readily parodied.) It was only when, 30 years ago, I heard Rip Torn read it, I began to acknowledge its power and originality. Nevertheless, I was still bothered by an overly self-aware, "straining for effect" quality -- until I found this collection.

Gary Schmidgall has done what should have been done a century ago. His collection, comprising half of Whitman's poems (about 80% of the total number of lines he wrote), restores them to their first versions in the correct chronological sequence.

We now hear Whitman speaking to us with his original animal vigor. Whitman himself admitted this: "...there was an immediateness to the 1855 edition, an incisive directness, that was perhaps not repeated in any section of poems subsequently added to the book: a hot, unqualifying temper, an insulting arrogance (to use a few strong words) that would not have been as natural to the periods that followed. We miss the ecstasy of statement in some of the after-work..."

More significantly, Whitman's subsequent emasculation and de-sexualizing -- to confuse and obscure the issue of his sexuality -- is removed. Whitman's originals are often more graphic, more-bluntly sexual. It's easier to see why most critics were offended. It's unfortunate Whitman's changes to "Leaves of Grass" made it less controversial. Perhaps the Schmidgall edition will encourage libraries that ban "Huckleberry Finn" to also ban "Leaves of Grass."

If you haven't read the original, 1855 edition of "Leaves of Grass" -- as well as Whitman's unsigned (and bluntly meretricious) reviews, and the contemporary reviews of academic critics -- you haven't read Whitman. I was especially moved by the last few pages of "Song of Myself," which I had never read.

Schmidgall includes a copious quantity of notes, excerpts, and reviews. The material from Whitman's notebooks make it clear he knew exactly what he was doing -- creating a new, original, wholly American poetry not modeled on Classic, European, or British forms -- and why. If America is the land of self-definition, Whitman was the first American poet to make that self-centeredness the focus of his works.

This edition is a must-own for anyone with the least interest in Whitman. Or dis-interest, for that matter. You might change your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best Whitman collections I have ever seen...
Why buy this when you can just go off and buy something like the "norton" edition or some other "complete works" ?Well, people who know a little about Whitman know that there were many versions of Leaves of Grass (as many as 8 or so) and that with each edition, Whitman was constantly revising and in many ways, neutering his own poetry.By his last "deathbed" edition, nearly all of the earlier controversial material had been obscured or even removed.These "authorized versions" fall short of displaying the true mastery of poetry that Whitman possessed

This is where this book stands above all other Whitman collections.This book fully restores many of his most creative and groundbreaking poetry *in their original forms.*It is like night and day.I was shocked all over again when I read the Calamus section as Whitman originally wrote it.With the veil of Whitman's later "moralization" removed, I saw for the first time the true soul of a genuine American poetic genius.This book gives us back what was once lost.

I might suggest that this book, not being a totally complete collection of his poetry, be the perfect companion to whatever edition you currently own.For other poets especially, this book will give you an incredible insight into one of the greatest (if not *the* greatest) American poets. ... Read more

19. Walt Whitman & the World
 Hardcover: 468 Pages (1995-11)
list price: US$49.95
Isbn: 0877454973
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Celebrating the various ethnic traditions that melded to create what we now call American literature, Whitman did his best to encourage an international reaction to his work. But even he would have been startled by the multitude of ways in which his call has been answered. By tracking this wholehearted international response and reconceptualizing American literature, Walt Whitman and the World demonstrates how various cultures have appropriated an American writer who ceases to sound quite so narrowly American when he is read into other cultures' traditions.
... Read more

20. On Whitman (Writers on Writers)
by C. K. Williams
Hardcover: 208 Pages (2010-04-18)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691144729
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C. K. Williams sets aside the mass of biography and literary criticism that has accumulated around the work and person of Walt Whitman, and attempts to go back to Leaves of Grass as he first encountered it, to explore why Whitman's epic "continues to inspire and sometimes daunt" him. The result is a personal reassessment and appreciation of one master poet by another, as well as an unconventional and brilliant introduction--or reintroduction--to Whitman.

In brief, thematic chapters with many quotations from Leaves of Grass, Williams explores the innovations, originality, and sheer genius of the poetry that has become, as he puts it, "the unconscious" of much of the poetry of America and the world. Williams pays particular attention to the music of Whitman's poetry, its blazing perception and enormous human sympathy, its affecting anecdotes, and its vast cast of characters, as well as to the radical nature of Whitman's first-person speaker, his liberating attitude toward sex, and his unconventional ideas about death. While conveying the singularities of Whitman's work, Williams also shows what Whitman had in common with other great poets of his time, such as Baudelaire, and the powerful influence Whitman had on later poets such as Eliot and Pound.

Beautifully written and rich with insight, this is a book that refreshes our ability to see Whitman in all his power.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Whitman's Music
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul"

C. K. Williams has written a wonderful book, "On Whitman," which may go down in history as one of the best studies on the poet, not because of its exceptional brilliance, but because of its remarkable attunement to Walt's music.The only book that equals Williams' ear for selection is F. O Matthiessen's 1941 masterpiece American Renaissance."How could all this have come to pass?" Williams asks: "This stupendous, relentless surge of poetic music with its intricate and constantly surprising combinations of sound?"Williams fells that Whitman's embodiment and embedding of his visions and metaphysical speculations in poetry is what makes his spirituality more sonorous, for some, than "any religious texts" (ix).He says that there is no question in his mind of influence: with Whitman we are dealing with a phenomenon that is without question more "primitive" than influence (x).He argues adds that in Walt's poetry after 1860 the American Bard "diluted and diffused his first brilliant inspiration" (xiv).For this reason the author quotes only from the 1855, 1856, and 1860 editions of Leaves of Grass and ends with a few lines from his Civil War poems.In doing so, he unfortunately misses much of Whitman's later brilliance, inspiration, and final grand symphonies.

The best thinking Williams does is in his repeated return to his thesis: "there was no place where he could have `learned' his craft: it evolved with his identity, with his very self." Whitman's new way of composing must have come all at once, he says, like a conversion experience (2).The leitmotif keeps repeating: "we don't know where his music came from" (3).Really?What might analytical psychology tells us that poetry cannot?(I have written about this elsewhere.)He repeats: "When and how Whitman first heard his music is a mystery still, perhaps the mystery" (5).Hs says it could only have taken a few instants, or a few months at most, for Whitman to realize that he had discovered a "musical system" and within this system all the earlier influences and other "singings" were somehow encompassed (17).The poet was surely in a state of "bliss" that lasted for years.Williams continues: Whitman lived in it, exulted in it, swam in the delight of it, and because he was so close to the source of bliss, "his rhythms, and his diction" is "sometimes almost primitive" (13).

For all the book's virtues, in conveying a feeling for the early music, to say that the only original music is in the 1855-1860 period, with a couple of Civil War chants thrown in, is tragic.Neither "Passage to India," nor "Proud Music of the Storm," two of Whitman's most musical compositions, masterpieces of pure beautiful verse, are not even mentioned.These late poems are not Williams' concern, so much as his first "brilliant conjunctions" (14).Conjunctions!Here his theme is gaining on him."Was he homosexual" Williams asks."Surely," he replies.What about sex with women?No, he answers: "it's finally very unlikely" (25)."Something happened, some utterly mysterious thing happened in the psyche of the poet which still remains the unlikeliest miracle, and he discovered, created his method" (38)."He must have written the whole of the 1855 book in a matter of months" (39-40).

The poet's vision is gaining on his speech.I agree.Some "conjunction" happened, some bliss.What was it?"The poet knows that he speaks adequately ... only when he speaks wildly" wrote Whitman.Surely this wildness has a source; surely it is some wild and thrilling conjunction!I can only agree with Williams here.Whitman tells us what it was.Some may not agree.But since the 1970's the field of Whitman scholarship has settled the matter, at least in my mind, and Williams also.Whitman provides hints, indirections, musical notes, tears, songs of the ocean, deaths.

"On Whitman" builds in cadences until it returns from a mis-conceived, mis-conjunctioned bliss-beyond-sex (Whitman does not say sex was excluded!) to the very root of roots: the theme of a sexually "liberated" culture.Then, the music returns, after a long lull:"If there were other antecedents, no one said it so well, no one came so close to sanctioning it as rapturously as did Whitman" (103).He reminds us of the "conjunction" again in brief passing: "Thruster holding me tight and that I hold tight! / We hurt each other as the bridegroom and the bride hurt each other!" (105).

As far as I know no one in history, not Plato, Shakespeare, nor Melville, had ever said that before!Whitman discovered a new archetype of the conjunction.He says so in "Calamus" and Williams inserts the lines: "Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you; / With the comrade's long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband's kiss, / For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade" (121).Beautiful!

Whitman had discovered the archetype of same-sex marriage one hundred and fifty years ago in his "New Bible."The source of the music was a conjunction of sames: adhesiveness, bliss.Today, we recognize what he meant by the "new husband."Williams misses this archetypal reading but he ends his fine little book with a final tribute to Whitman's music that is endearing: "Most crucially, in his ever-refreshing, ever-renewing music, he is with us, he is here" (187).A great read for any serious student of Whitman!

5-0 out of 5 stars On Whitman and His Still-Sung Song
Beginning with a question posed by a friend, namely, "What in heaven's name is left to say?" of Walt Whitman, C. K. Williams responds with a personal look at (mostly) the earlier poems and (largely) his continuing poetic presence.Inhabiting full the human form (in his imagination, at least), likening himself near to Christ, visioning democracy for America and (over)re-visioning Leaves of Grass -- this is the Whitman Williams brings to fore.

A concise, pocket-sized companion with which to revisit (or, lucky reader! meet for the first time) the poet before whose self-publication the self was rarely imagined in so brilliant and expansive a pose.With intriguing consideration of the not-entirely separable categories (though Williams tries) of imagination, religious sensibility and mysticism variably applied to Whitman's work. ... Read more

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