Walt Whitmans America: A Cultural Biography

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Walt Whitman: A Biography by Peter Nguyen

New Paperback Quantity Available: 7. Seller Image. New Paperback or Softback Quantity Available: 2. Published by Penguin Random House. Published by Vintage. Mediaoutlet Springfield, VA, U. New Quantity Available: 1. New Paperback Quantity Available: 1. New Quantity Available: Book Depository hard to find London, United Kingdom. There are more copies of this book View all search results for this book. His life is examined through his interfacing with politics, sociology, the arts, economics, religion, education, etc.. Through this careful examination, you get a pretty good idea of what was important in life for Whitman, and also the 19th century American, and what they were experiencing in the years before and after the Civil War.

For one example, I had a generic idea, but never realized how much Americans of that time were fascinated by great oration. Henry Ward Beecher, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Douglas, and Abraham Lincoln, to name a few, were known for their dynamic ability in oratory, and were basically put into the same category as entertainers. There are hundreds of fascinating examples of illuminating information that I could pull from the book.

Suffice it to say that I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in American History No book that I have ever read has put the world of 19th century America into such good perspective for me. Jan 10, Uwe Hook rated it it was amazing.

Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography

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 n Reynolds shows how Whitman was of his culture and why he is an authentic American voice.

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. 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.

Walt Whitman's America : a cultural biography / David S. Reynolds

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. Sep 03, V rated it liked it. Man, I don't know why I stuck with this big, honkin' book. I love Whitman's poetry and was that more interested in this book after reading "Team of Rivals". Although it does a fairly good job in presenting aspects of "Whitman's America". Reynolds provides way to much of meaningless trivia that one forgets about he or she is reading a biography.

I also really dislike Reynold's academic ego. He constantly criticizes previous biographies which would have b Man, I don't know why I stuck with this big, honkin' book. He constantly criticizes previous biographies which would have been okay , but does it in an arrogant, snobbish way. I do like how he wrote about each edition of "Leaves of Grass" and how Whitman and the population received it. Also, his approach to how Whitman felt and wrote about Lincoln.

I saw a bio of Whitman via YouTube and Reynolds makes an appearance - I was impressed by his contribution. Loved this Whitman quote: "It pleases me to think also that if any of my works shall survive it will be the fellowship in it -- comradeship -- friendship is the good old word -- the love of my fellow men.

View 2 comments. Mar 24, Randy Wambold rated it liked it. What has to be said right up front is that this is an impressive, almost inconceivable work of scholarship. That Reynolds is in full command of every scrap of source material pertaining to Whitman's life is undeniable.

The word encyclopedic definitely comes to mind. But then that's the problem. Encyclopedias are not engaging reads. While the shear amount of information presented in this biography is incredibly impressive, it often feels more like a reference work than a biography with a narrativ What has to be said right up front is that this is an impressive, almost inconceivable work of scholarship. While the shear amount of information presented in this biography is incredibly impressive, it often feels more like a reference work than a biography with a narrative.

Reynolds is at his best presenting this information straightforwardly. I found myself at times feeling like Reynolds honestly knows more about Whitman's day to day, hour to hour life than I could remember about my own. But when he does try to veer into narrative themes, the work is less convincing.

Over and over again, with all the subtlety of a hammer going after a nail, he labors to show that same sex love and affection had a very different context during Whitman's time than our own. After a while I found myself thinking - who cares? The poet pretty clearly seemed to be on a spectrum that in I think we've accepted can be complicated and hard to nail down. Why is it so important to tangle with the false dichotomy of whether he was gay - or not. Likewise the narrative theme of Whitman's commercialization of his works and his often false claims that he was underappreciated and underpublished.

At some point I wanted to yell to Reynolds, No mas! I get it! Point made! Finally, as another review on Goodreads notes, Reynolds' fairly frequent claims to original scholarship feel ham handed and arrogant. Maybe in the rarefied academic world it's important to explicitly stake out original contributions, but I would guess that for more most readers like myself this is far less important. And for me it just distracted me and made me think of the author as a snobby academician.

And yet for all that, I picked up this book because I felt I knew little of Whitman's poetry and life. But after reading this book, I feel hugely well-informed on both. I particularly like the approach Reynolds takes of writing a "cultural biography. His explicit literary mission was to assimilate every aspect of the rapidly changing world in which he lived, to unify that into art.

And so I feel that while I learned a tremendous amount about this one's poet life, I likewise learned a tremendous amount about the time in which Whitman lived - in all aspects, including politics, business, art, the Civil War.


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To my mind, this is by far the most convincing thesis of the biography, and by far its biggest accomplishment. So I guess in summary I would say, in reading this biography I hoped to learn more about Whitman and his times. If I could go back and talk to myself before beginning this biography I would tell myself: be careful what you wish for Sep 10, Paul O'Leary rated it it was amazing. In many ways, regardless whether anyone reads them or not, they were dividends I earned from my attentive reading.

I stopped writing review for reasons personal, as well as extra-personal. This might have been the best book I read in Reynolds gives the reader a thorough and impressive biography of the Body Electric poet. Too often biographies are linear one dimensional affairs. These can be serviceable when serviceable is enough. Whitman obviously deserves more; Reynolds obliges him. In short, Reynolds makes more than good on his subtitle.

[Walt Whitman's America] | ifekatoroc.tk

Or at least while Whitman rested his hat there. Leaves of Grass alone underwent numerous changes in content. Reynolds ably chronicles how that sprawling beast was birthed, continuously fed, and then preserved into the iconic American poem we all know at least, in passing today. His bonhomie colored his personality at every stage of his life, but his practical tender care of and for the human in its frailty awed this reader. Unfortunately, as Whitman passed out of the civil war years and became in essence Whitman Inc, the biography becomes a little downbeat.

Whitman, living in New Jersey during his last years, feels rather truncated when removed from the bustle, and seems more concerned with finance and fame. The poet in old age seems to contract, if not shrivel somewhat. For such a creative and caring spirit, this is tragic; albeit a natural tragedy of age.

ISBN 13: 9780679767091

Reynolds has given us an outstanding, three-dimensional biography of the highest caliber. Jul 29, blue-collar mind rated it liked it. Although I have read Leaves of Grass a few times, I knew little of Whitman past his life in Brooklyn and his early abolitionism. That gap of knowledge and the current political divide in the U. It's a handful but very readable. The author does an excellent job detailing the times Walt lived in and how this led to his belief that poetry was to be the way to unite a dividing countr Although I have read Leaves of Grass a few times, I knew little of Whitman past his life in Brooklyn and his early abolitionism.

The author does an excellent job detailing the times Walt lived in and how this led to his belief that poetry was to be the way to unite a dividing country. The tension over slavery, modernization, suffragism, political changes and more that made Whitman's family and work life so challenged also gifted the world with one hell of a free verse collection.

He updated LOG nine times throughout his life to attempt to realize his ambition for his poetry to reach the multitudes, designing many of the editions himself, and updating his reach and language to match the times and his own evolution as a citizen. I can only imagine what a great blogger Whitman would have been. Apr 13, Tom Lowe rated it it was amazing. It is such a breath of fresh air to read such an informative book written by such an intelligent writer. The research that went into this book absolutely astounds me.

Being raised in the city where Whitman spent his last two decades, Camden, I always felt a kinship to Whitman. Reynolds is not the first to read Whitman in historical context or to thematically focus upon Whitman's absorbing mind; yet few biographies provide this book's breadth of coverage, and even fewer, if any, recuperate the complex flow of relations fusing culture with personality.

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Reynolds' ability to weave together multiple strands of personal and national history, to account closely for a variety of cultural voices, and to locate text and reader within the horizons of nineteenth-century experience, convincingly argue the need for this new Whitman biography. This book indeed retrieves the past that Whitman knew and through which we might better know him. Such a design, while admirable, presents some problems.

The staggering array of detail often leaves the reader awash in a stream of loosely-knit associations. Taxing short-term memory, the flow of detail seldom slows. One soon becomes accustomed to the surge of multiple strains ofinfluence, however , accepting it as indicative Access options available:. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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