Download Walt Whitman (Live and Legacies) by David S. Reynolds PDF

By David S. Reynolds

From the good occasions of the day to the sufferer workings of a spider, few poets answered to the lifestyles round them as powerfully as Walt Whitman. Now, during this short yet bountiful quantity, David S. Reynolds deals a wealth of perception into the existence and paintings of Whitman, interpreting the writer during the lens of nineteenth-century the United States. Reynolds exhibits how Whitman answered to modern theater, track, portray, images, technology, faith, and intercourse. yet maybe not anything encouraged Whitman greater than the political occasions of his lifetime, because the fight over slavery threatened to tear aside the nationwide textile. the United States, he believed, desperately wanted a poet to carry jointly a society that was once at the verge of unraveling. He created his robust, all-absorbing poetic "I" to heal a fragmented state that, he was hoping, could locate in his poetry new chances for idea and togetherness. Reynolds additionally examines the impression of theater, describing how Whitman's favourite actor, the tragedian Junius Brutus Booth--"one of the grandest revelations of my life"--developed a powerfully emotive degree type that encouraged Leaves of Grass, which took passionate poetic expression to new heights. Readers also will detect how from the hot medium of images Whitman realized democratic realism and provided in his poetry "photographs" of universal humans engaged in daily actions. Reynolds concludes with an appraisal of Whitman's effect on American letters, a power that is still powerful this present day. Solidly grounded in historic and biographical evidence, and particularly wide-ranging within the issues it treats, Walt Whitman packs a stunning quantity of perception right into a compact quantity.

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During the six years that he was in Washington, he saw over 100,000 wounded soldiers in the war hospitals. Although he would sometimes help 18 WA LT W H I T M A N doctors and regular nurses in their medical work, his main contri­ bution was providing companionship and supplies to wounded soldiers. He distributed candy, fruit, oysters, stationery, and small sums of money to the soldiers. He gained a deep appreciation of the courage and devotion to a cause on the part of both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Before producing the 1855 Leaves of Grass, Whitman had been immersed for over a dozen years in the rough-and-tumble world of New York journalism. As a writer and an editor for various 24 WA LT W H I T M A N Manhattan and Brooklyn newspapers, he had participated in the cultural life of these cities. The temperance movement, for example, was a rich source of imagery to him. Responding to the astounding rate of alcohol con­ sumption in America, the Washingtonian temperance movement arose during the early 1840s.

As a young journalist, he wrote sensational poems and stories for newspapers. Among them was “The Inca’s Daughter,” in which an Inca maid is tortured on the rack and then stabs her­ self with a poisoned arrow; “The Spanish Lady,” whose aristo­ cratic heroine is stabbed by “one whose trade is blood and crime”;6 and “Richard Parker’s Widow,” in which a maddened woman dis­ inters her executed husband’s coffin and embraces the corpse. In the newspapers he edited, he sometimes catered to popular taste by printing horrid accounts of crimes and accidents.

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