This comprehensive, original portrait of the life and work of one of America's greatest poets--set in the social, cultural, and political context of his time--considers the full range of writings by and about Whitman, his early poems and stories, his conversations, letters, journals, newspaper writings, and daybooks. "A remarkably informative biography".--The New York Times Book Review.
This Library of America edition is the biggest and best edition of Walt Whitman's writings ever published. It includes all of his poetry and what he considered his complete prose. It is also the only collection that includes, in exactly the form in which it appeared in 1855, the first edition of Leaves of Grass. This was the book, a commercial failure, which prompted Emerson's famous message to Whitman: "I greet you at the beginning of a great career." These twelve poems, including what were later to be entitled "Song of Myself" and "I Sing the Body Electric," and a preface announcing the author's poetic theories were the first stage of a massive, lifelong work. Six editions and some thirty-seven years later, Leaves of Grass became one of the central volumes in the history of world poetry.Each edition involved revisions of earlier poems and the incorporation of new ones. As it progressed, it was hailed by Emerson, Thoreau, Rosetti and others, but was also, as with the sixth edition in 1881-82, beset by charges of obscenity for such poems as "A Woman Waits for Me." Printed here is the final, great culminating edition of 1891-92, the last supervised by Whitman himself just before his death. Whitman's prose is no less extraordinary. Specimen Days and Collect (1882) includes reminiscences of nineteenth-century New York City that will fascinate readers in the twenty-first, notes on the Civil War, especially his service in Washington hospitals, and trenchant comments on books and authors. Democratic Vistas (1871), in its attacks on the misuses of national wealth after the Civil War, is relevant to conditions in our own time, and November Boughs (1888) brings together retrospective prefaces, opinions, and random autobiographical bits that are in effect an extended epilogue on Whitman's life, works, and times. LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
This is probably the most notable of all regional books about New York and Long Island. It is the work of Walt Whitman, and its pages reveal the serious professional journalist, and not seldom the poet, writing brave things in prose. The editor comments in his introduction, "Whitman, though a native of the New York area, loved it and wrote of it with the zeal and zest usually found only in those from elsewhere who have made New York their chosen home." Indeed, he lived in the region for the first forty-two years of his life; successfuly edited newspapers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Long Island; and wrote for many years following. The articles collected in this volume by Henry M. Christman were conceived as a book by their author but appeared in a series entitled "Brooklyniana" that appeared in the Brooklyn Standard. All bear the impress of Whitman's humanity and show the breadth of his interest in "the great play of life and business going on around us."
No American writer of the nineteenth century was more universally enjoyed and admired than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His works were extraordinary bestsellers for their era, achieving fame both here and abroad. Now, for the first time in over twenty-five years, The Library of America offers a full-scale literary portrait of America's greatest popular poet.Here are the poems that created an American mythology: Evangeline in the forest primeval, Hiawatha by the shores of Gitche Gumee, the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the wreck of the Hesperus, the village blacksmith under the spreading chestnut tree, the strange courtship of Miles Standish, the maiden Priscilla and the hesitant John Alden; verses like "A Psalm of Life" and "The Children's Hour," whose phrases and characters have become part of the culture. Here as well, along with the public antislavery poems, are the sparer, darker lyrics--"The Fire of Drift-Wood," "Mezzo Cammin," "Snow-Flakes," and many others--that show a more austere aspect of Longfellow's poetic gift. Erudite and fluent in many languages, Longfellow was endlessly fascinated with the byways of history and the curiosities of legend. As a verse storyteller he had no peer, whether in the great book-length narratives such as Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha (both included in full) or the stories collected in Tales of a Wayside Inn (reprinted here in a generous selection). His many poems on literary themes, such as his moving homages to Dante and Chaucer, his verse translations from Lope de Vega, Heinrich Heine, and Michelangelo, and his ambitious verse dramas, notably The New England Tragedies (also complete), are remarkable in their range and ambition. As a special feature, this volume restores to print Longfellow's novel Kavanagh, a study of small-town life and literary ambition that was praised by Emerson as an important contribution to the development of American fiction. A selection of essays rounds out of the volume and provides testimony of Longfellow's concern with creating an American national literature. LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation's literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America's best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
In each section of Michael Cunningham's bold new novel, his first since The Hours, we encounter the same group of characters: a young boy, an older man, and a young woman. "In the Machine" is a ghost story that takes place at the height of the industrial revolution, as human beings confront the alienating realities of the new machine age. "The Children's Crusade," set in the early twenty-first century, plays with the conventions of the noir thriller as it tracks the pursuit of a terrorist band that is detonating bombs, seemingly at random, around the city. The third part, "Like Beauty," evokes a New York 150 years into the future, when the city is all but overwhelmed by refugees from the first inhabited planet to be contacted by the people of Earth.
Presiding over each episode of this interrelated whole is the prophetic figure of the poet Walt Whitman, who promised his future readers, "It avails not, neither time or place . . . I am with you, and know how it is." Specimen Days is a genre-bending, haunting, and transformative ode to life in our greatest city and a meditation on the direction and meaning of America's destiny. It is a work of surpassing power and beauty by one of the most original and daring writers at work today.
On May 26, 1863, Walt Whitman wrote to his mother: "O the sad, sad things I see--the noble young men with legs and arms taken off--the deaths--the sick weakness, sicker than death, that some endure, after amputations...just flickering alive, and O so deathly weak and sick." For nearly three years, Whitman immersed himself in the devastation of the Civil War, tending to thousands of wounded soldiers and recording his experience with an immediacy and compassion unequaled in wartime literature anywhere in the world.
In The Better Angel, acclaimed biographer Roy Morris, Jr. gives us the fullest accounting of Whitman's profoundly transformative Civil War Years and an historically invaluable examination of the Union's treatment of its sick and wounded. Whitman was mired in depression as the war began, subsisting on journalistic hackwork, wasting his nights in New York's seedy bohemian underground, his "great career" as a poet apparently stalled. But when news came that his brother George had been wounded at Fredericksburg, Whitman rushed south to find him. Though his brother's injury was slight, Whitman was deeply affected by his first view of the war's casualties. He began visiting the camp's wounded and, almost by accident, found his calling for the duration of the war. Three years later, he emerged as the war's "most unlikely hero," a living symbol of American democratic ideals of sharing and brotherhood.
Instead of returning to Brooklyn as planned, Whitman continued to visit the wounded soldiers in the hospitals in and around the capital. He brought them ice cream, tobacco, brandy, books, magazines, pens and paper, wrote letters for those who were not able and offered to all the enormous healing influence of his sympathy and affection. Indeed, several soldiers claimed that Whitman had saved their lives. One noted that Whitman "seemed to have what everybody wanted" and added "When this old heathen came and gave me a pipe and tobacco, it was about the most joyful moment of my life." Another wrote that "There is many a soldier that never thinks of you but with emotions of the greatest gratitude." But if Whitman gave much to the soldiers, they in turn gave much to him. In witnessing their stoic suffering, in listening to their understated speech, and in being always in the presence of death, Whitman evolved the new and more direct poetic style that was to culminate in his masterpiece, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."
Brilliantly researched and beautifully written, The Better Angel explores a side of Whitman not fully examined before, one that greatly enriches our understanding of his later poetry. More than that, it gives us a vivid and unforgettable portrait of the "other army"--the legions of sick and wounded soldiers who are usually left in the shadowy background of Civil War history--seen here through the unflinching eyes of America's greatest poet.
The first book to portray one of the most remarkable friendships in American letters, that of Emily Dickinson--recluse, poet--and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, minister, literary figure, active abolitionist.
Their friendship began in 1862. The Civil War was raging. Dickinson was thirty-one; Higginson, thirty-eight. A former pastor at the Free Church of Worcester, Massachusetts, he wrote often for "the" cultural magazine of the day, "The""Atlantic Monthly"--on gymnastics, women's rights, and slavery. His article "Letter to a Young Contributor" gave advice to readers who wanted to write for the magazine and offered tips on how to submit one's work ("use black ink, good pens, white paper").
Among the letters Higginson received in response was one scrawled in looping, difficult handwriting. Four poems were enclosed in a smaller envelope. He deciphered the scribble: "Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?"
Higginson read the poems. The writing was unique, uncategorizable. It was clear to him that this was "a wholly new and original poetic genius," and the memory of that moment stayed with him when he wrote about it thirty years later.
Emily Dickinson's question inaugurated one of the least likely correspondences in American letters--between a man who ran guns to Kansas, backed John Brown, and would soon command the first Union regiment of black soldiers, and the eremitic, elusive poet who cannily told him she did not cross her "Father's ground to any House or town."
For the next quarter century, until her death in 1886, Dickinson sent Higginson dazzling poems, almost one hundred of them--many of them her best. Their metrical forms were unusual, their punctuation unpredictable, their images elliptical, innovative, unsentimental. Poetry torn up by the roots, Higginson later said, that "gives the sudden transitions."
Dickinson was a genius of the faux-naif variety, reclusive to be sure but more savvy than one might imagine, more self-conscious and sly, and certainly aware of her outsize talent. "Dare you see a Soul at the 'White Heat'?" she wondered. She dared, and he did.
In this shimmering, revelatory work, Brenda Wineapple re-creates the extraordinary, delicate friendship that led to the publication of Dickinson's poetry. And though she and Higginson met face-to-face only twice (he had never met anyone "who drained my nerve power so much," he said), their friendship reveals much about Dickinson, throwing light onto both the darkened door of the poet's imagination and a corner of the noisy century that she and Colonel Higginson shared.
"White Heat" is about poetry, politics, and love; it is, as well, a story of seclusion and engagement, isolation and activism--and the way they were related--in the roiling America of the nineteenth century.
The Civil War is seen anew, and a great American family brought to life, in Robert Roper's brilliant evocation of the Family Whitman.
Walt Whitman's work as a nurse to the wounded soldiers of the Civil War had a profound effect on the way he saw the world. Much less well known is the extraordinary record of his younger brother, George Washington Whitman, who led his men in twenty-one major battles--from Antietam to Fredericksburg, Vicksburg to the Wilderness--almost to die in a Confederate prison camp as the fighting ended. Drawing on the searing letters that Walt, George, their mother Louisa, and their other brothers, wrote to each other during the conflict, and on new evidence and new readings of the great poet, Now the Drum of War chronicles the experience of an archetypal American family--from rural Long Island to working-class Brooklyn--enduring its own long crisis alongside the anguish of the nation. Robert Roper has constructed a powerful narrative about America's greatest crucible, and a compelling, braided story of our most original poet and one of our bravest soldiers.
Seamus Heaney, Denis Donoghue, William Pritchard, Marilyn Butler, Harold Bloom, and many others have praised Helen Vendler as one of the most attentive readers of poetry. Here, Vendler turns her illuminating skills as a critic to 150 selected poems of Emily Dickinson. As she did in The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets, she serves as an incomparable guide, considering both stylistic and imaginative features of the poems.
In selecting these poems for commentary Vendler chooses to exhibit many aspects of Dickinson's work as a poet, "from her first-person poems to the poems of grand abstraction, from her ecstatic verses to her unparalleled depictions of emotional numbness, from her comic anecdotes to her painful poems of aftermath." Included here are many expected favorites as well as more complex and less often anthologized poems. Taken together, Vendler's selection reveals Emily Dickinson's development as a poet, her astonishing range, and her revelation of what Wordsworth called "the history and science of feeling."
In accompanying commentaries Vendler offers a deeper acquaintance with Dickinson the writer, "the inventive conceiver and linguistic shaper of her perennial themes." All of Dickinson's preoccupations--death, religion, love, the natural world, the nature of thought--are explored here in detail, but Vendler always takes care to emphasize the poet's startling imagination and the ingenuity of her linguistic invention. Whether exploring less familiar poems or favorites we thought we knew, Vendler reveals Dickinson as "a master" of a revolutionary verse-language of immediacy and power. Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries will be an indispensable reference work for students of Dickinson and readers of lyric poetry.