By David S. Reynolds
Few authors are so well matched to historic research as Whitman, who's largely thought of America's maximum poet. This consultant combines modern cultural experiences and historic scholarship to light up Whitman's various contexts. The essays discover dimensions of Whitman's dynamic dating to working-class politics, race and slavery, sexual mores, the visible arts, and the assumption of democracy. The poet who emerges from this quantity is not any "solitary singer," distanced from his tradition, yet what he himself known as "the age transfigured," totally enmeshed in his instances and addressing concerns which are nonetheless very important this day.
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Additional resources for A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (Historical Guides to American Authors)
66. "First O Songs for a Prelude," LGC, 281. 67. PW,I:6o. 68. PW,II:5o8. 69. Peter Doyle to Whitman, letter of September 27, 1868. Morgan Library (New York). 70. WWC, IV:195. 71. WWC, III:543. 72. NUPM, II:888-89. 73. TC, V:72. 74. TC, I:247. 75. PW,II:370. 76. Oliver Stevens to James R. Osgood, letter of March 1, 1882. Feinberg Collection, Library of Congress. 1 But Whitman was a poet embedded in his times, and his times—not unlike our own—were a period of intense disagreement about the significance and importance of racial difference.
76 Predictably, the banning aroused the public's curiosity, and when the 1881 edition was republished in Philadelphia, sales were brisk. Although he never became a bestselling poet, Whitman gained celebrity status. Among the many who traveled to Camden to meet him were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edmund Gosse, and Oscar Wilde. " The lectures became big fundraising events; in New York in April 1887, for example, he earned $600 by lecturing before a crowd that included Andrew Carnegie, James Russell Lowell, and Mark Twain.
I am the God of revolt—deathless, sorrowful, vast" (NUPM, IV:130o-13om). It is an intense and explosive conflation, this joining of the angry black slave and the rebellious angel. In combining them and in expressing sympathy for the resultant figure of rebellion ("I do not deny him"), Whitman creates an incendiary image, one that was particularly volatile in the mid-185os. Slave revolts in the South—already numbering in the hundreds—were multiplying (in the year following the publication of this poem, there would be slave revolts in twelve states), and a racial war threatened, the very kind of war that John Brown would try to precipitate a couple of years later with his raid on Harpers Ferry.
A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (Historical Guides to American Authors) by David S. Reynolds