Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography

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"Exploring the full range of writings by and about Whitman - not just his most famous work but also his earliest poems and stories, his conversations, letters, journals, newspaper writings, and daybooks - Reynolds gives us a full, rounded picture of the man, of his creative blending of disparate ideas and images, and his contradictory stances on race, class, and gender." "Whitman's uniqueness is shown to spring primarily from his closeness to and absorption of his contemporary culture. We see how the social convulsions of Jacksonian America were mirrored in the tribulations of the poet's family, and how Whitman's private anguish, which can be felt in his early poems, was swept up in his growing alarm for a nation riven by sectional controversies, political corruption, and class division." "Into the vacuum created by the social and political crises rushed Whitman's gargantuan poetic "I," gathering images from every facet of American life in a hopeful gesture of unity: the cocky defiance of the Bowery b'hoys, the rhythms and inflections of actors and orators, the bloodcurdling sensationalism of penny papers, the incandescent images of luminist painters, the zany visions of popular mystics. We see Whitman in a society rampant with illicit sexual activity, which it refused to acknowledge. We see him aligning his passion for young men with the psychological and behavioral customs of a century in which same-sex love was actually common."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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WALT WHITMAN'S AMERICA: A Cultural Biography

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This absorbing portrait of America's greatest poetic personality contains multitudes, all right. It opens onto a vast panorama of the United States in the 19th century, redefining the horizons of ... Read full review

Walt Whitman's America: a cultural biography

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Whitman, the Good Gray Poet, was born into a time when slavery and the new market economy had just begun to transform the nation. Reynolds (Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
Literary Genealogy Literary Geography
7
Sights Surroundings Influences 3
31
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of American Literature and American Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has previously taught at Rutgers University, New York University, Barnard College, and Northwestern University. He is the author of the monumental Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville, winner of the Christian Gauss award.  His other publications include Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religious Literature in America;George Lippard; and George Lippard, Prophet of Protest: Writintgs of an American Radical, 1822-1854&

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