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Leaves of Grass: The First Edition (1855) [Kindle Edition]

Walt Whitman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In response to Ralph Waldo Emerson's call for the United States to have its own unique poet, Walt Whitman rose to the challenge to create what would ultimately be his most profound work. Taking its title from the colloquial term "grass", meaning a work of minor value, Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" is anything but that. Over his lifetime Whitman would continue to expand and revise his most famous book up until his death in 1892. Here in this volume we reproduce the short collection of twelve poems of the very first edition, originally published in 1855.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As scholarship has made its importance to American letters more manifest, editions of the 1855 version of Whitman's masterpiece have multiplied. This one, prepared in honor of the poem's 150th anniversary, will be hard to beat. Edited by major Americanist Reynolds (Walt Whitman's America, etc.), it comes as close as possible, without being a facsimile, to reproducing Whitman's original text, which he famously self-published. The familiar litho of the young rough with open collar opens the book, and Reynold's terrific and informative afterword closes it, along with contemporary reviews (some written by Whitman himself) and Emerson's famous letter ("I greet you at the beginning of a great career..."). Those who know Whitman only through the beautiful but bloated 1892 "deathbed" edition of Leaves of Grass will find here a lean, searing celebration of self.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-By Walt Whitman. Narrated by Flo Gibson.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 319 KB
  • Print Length: 106 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1420931784
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (March 30, 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1C8C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #415,855 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What More Can Be Said? September 26, 2007
Format:Paperback
It's difficult to think of something appropriate to say about a man who spent his life trying to express the panorama of humanity through the lense of his own heart. From a drop of blood to the grandeur of a shipyard or a continent, he takes all readers on a journey wild with raving, raging, sorrow, longing, humbleness and pride. At once he is totally modern and yet rife with history.

For readers new to poetry, Walt Whitman is wonderfully accessible. One can pick up Leaves of Grass and virtually start and stop anywhere and pick up something wonderful every time.

Not to be missed.
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
A Kid's Review
Format:Paperback
The 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass was the first and the best.

When I was young I bought the big deathbed edition, not knowing about the 1855 one. I became a Whitman disciple. Either version is a good place to start, but the 1855 is the best version of the early poems and a fine introduction to W.W.

The 1855 version was ignored for quite a long time in Whitman studies, but started recieving critical attention after Malcolm Cowley worked to revive it in the 1950's. It was his version that used to be available, until recently, as a Penguin Classic.

So whats the difference between 1855 and the Deathbed one?

Throughout his lifetime, Whitman not only expanded LOG, his only book, with gobs of inferior-- and sometimes truly awful-- poems (especially when he was older) but he also revised many of his early poems for later editions-- revising them almost always for the worse.

The 1855 edition is realtively short and reflects the diminutive, obscure quality of the original. The poems are full of Whitman's original fire before he tinkered with them.

Bloom, the author of the introduction, is in the estimation of many America's best living literary critic. He profoundly knows and adores Walt Whitman.

If you have the slightest interest in reading American Poetry,drop whatever you are reading (unless it is perhaps Dickinson or Emerson) and get this book. It's still America's best. Nothing since has been (and nothing will ever be) better. The only American poets after Whitman who mattered were deep readers of LOG: Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens, TS Eliot, John Ashbury. (A Ginsberg, C. Sandberg, and O. Paz resemble him superficially but they are are wonks.
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143 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential American poetry March 4, 2001
Format:Hardcover
Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" is a collection of some of the finest American free-verse poetry ever written. Outward from his home on Brooklyn, Whitman soars out over our great nation, painting a sweeping portrait of mid-nineteenth century America and its diverse inhabitants. Whitman covers a panorama of ideas and themes, from lofty, aloof musings on the nature of man, to piercing depictions of the horrors of war. Gems of wisdom hang from Whitman's web of of verse like dew drops - easy to see but hard to grasp. This is a powerful work, and a never-ending source of beauty. Unfortunately for me, I am not a big fan of free verse, making this work harder for me to enjoy than I had hoped.
Which edition do I recommend? That really depends on what you are looking for. If you are just interested in getting a taste of Whitman, I would recommend some of the abridged versions. I don't feel that reading all 700+ pages of Whitman's poetry is necessary for anyone but his biggest fans and students. For a complete version, I found the Modern Library edition acceptable, but nothing spectacular. This work has a multitude of editions, and I would recommend actually holding them in your hand before making a decision on which best suits your needs.
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217 of 254 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars MISREPRESENTATION: This is 1892 Deathbed Edition! March 14, 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although the poems are beautiful... and I certainly don't mean to bash Whitman with this 2-star rating... it's the wrong book. NOT AS ADVERTISED. This was supposed to be the original 1855 edition. That's what I expected, and therefore (in my mind) what I was paying for. The original 1855 edition, according to modern literary analysis, was the "strongest/purest" version. It was the true starting point of Whitman's own (and consequently America's) poetic awakening. Consisting of just 12 "perfect" poems, it was THAT edition which Emerson praised so highly.

Whitman never put out another book... just revision after revision, addition after addition, and edition after edition of Leaves Of Grass... until you wind up with "the deathbed edition" which is a severely bloated and different work from the original.

I was very much looking forward to a slender volume of the original edition. Which is what the item description says this is. It's not. Be forewarned... it's the Deathbed Edition of 1892... nearly 500 pages. And frankly, there are MUCH better versions of the deathbed edition. Sturdier versions with nicer pages exist (this is a pretty weak paperback, printed on pulp pages), with better footnotes and more authoritive introductions. Shop around.

To sum up... the 2 star rating is because lying about which edition this is, is a terrible way to sell the book. Whitman was fantastic and the poetry contained in the book itself is first rate. It just would have been nice to get what I paid for. The "true" editon, written by a YOUNG Whitman at the height of his powers...
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