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Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself (edition 1999)
Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself by Jerome Loving
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0520214277, Hardcover)Despite the general resistance to his work on the part of his literary contemporaries, and their disapproval of his homoeroticism, Walt Whitman experienced incredible success during his lifetime. After the 1855 publication of Leaves of Grass (the first of nine editions of the book he personally saw through the press), he fast became America's national poet. He was asked to write poems commemorating the victims of natural disasters and was offered a free burial plot in exchange for a poem lauding the cemetery's beauty. Millionaire Andrew Carnegie was one of his vigorous supporters.
Whitman's success is most likely the result of the approachability--he wrote often of the immediate: the sounds of the city, men bathing in the river, the mystery around the next corner--and sheer beauty of his poems. He was also an expert self-promoter. Long before the advent of the blurb in contemporary publishing, Whitman would include reviews of his books in the appendices. Many of these were actually written by him and a few were even critical, in order to maintain a sense of objectivity. He carefully controlled his public image, but assiduously guarded his private realm, which is why, more than a century after the poet's death, debate still rages about his sexual proclivity--there simply isn't enough proof one way or another. The Song of Himself, the first comprehensive biography of Whitman in 20 years, is rich with details of its subject's life and times and cogent analysis of his poetry--a book that is sure to increase readers' understanding of the great poet and reinvigorate their interest in his work. --Anna Baldwin
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:59 -0400)
A biography of Walt Whitman, the 19th century writer hailed as the father of American poetry. It traces his life as a printer and journalist, before his self-published collection, Leaves of Grass, brought him fame. He was a great promoter, going so far as to write his own book reviews for newspapers. As a poet, he rejected regular meter and rhyme in favor of free verse and blazed the trail as a writer of erotica.
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