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A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman (Historical Guides to by David S. Reynolds

By David S. Reynolds

Few authors are so well matched to ancient learn as Whitman, who's extensively thought of America's maximum poet. This consultant combines modern cultural stories and ancient scholarship to light up Whitman's different contexts. The essays discover dimensions of Whitman's dynamic courting to working-class politics, race and slavery, sexual mores, the visible arts, and the assumption of democracy. The poet who emerges from this quantity isn't any "solitary singer," distanced from his tradition, yet what he himself known as "the age transfigured," absolutely enmeshed in his occasions and addressing matters which are nonetheless important this present day.

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13. Scudder Whitney to Lotte Rees, letter of August 18, 1906. Y. 14. Citations from the Woodbury letters are from Arthur Golden, "Nine Early Whitman Letters, 1840-1841," American Literature 58 (Oct. 1986): 342-60. 15. , 1966), and Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (New York: Knopf, 1995), 70-72. 16. NUPM, 1:217. 17. Golden, "Nine Early Letters," 357. 18. NUPM, I:169. 19. WWC, II:283. 20. LGC, 473. 21. Frederick Blue, The Free Sailers: Third Party Politics, 1848-54 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973), 74-75.

65. PW,II:429. 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.

14 Although he would later famously sing praise to the worth of ordinary people, at this point they struck him as ill-bred and repulsive. Whitman's snobbish attitude in the Woodbury letters corresponds with his appearance in the earliest surviving daguerreotype of him, which shows a dandyish young man in a dark frock coat, with a fashionable black hat, a heavily polished cane, and a look of slightly disdainful sophistication. His activities immediately after leaving Woodbury in early September 1840 are unclear.

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