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The Portable Walt Whitman (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (December 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437681
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was born on Long Island and educated in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a printer's devil, journeyman compositor, itinerant schoolteacher, editor, and unofficial nurse to Northern and Southern soldiers.


Michael Warner is professor of English at Rutgers University. His most recent works include American Sermons: The Pilgrims to Martin Luther King, and his essays and journalism have appeared in the Village Voice, the Nation, and other magazines.


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Customer Reviews

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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "phrynicus" on March 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
This wonderful edition features a judicious selection of Walt Whitman's poetry and essays, edited by distinguished literary critic Mark Van Doren (who is perhaps now as well known for being the father of Ralph Fiennes' character in 'Quiz Show' as he is for his erudition).
Van Doren's preface, itself a famous piece of work, accounts for both the best and worst of Whitman's creations (Van Doren seemed to share Randall Jarrell's view that we can only appreciate the best of Whitman's poetry by acknowledging the depths of his worst work), and seeks to locate the personal Whitman within his verses. This essay alone is arguably worth the price of purchase.
What really sets this anthology apart from others like it, though, is the manner in which Van Doren takes his argument - that Whitman's work was always intimate, even though its themes were variously epical or universal - and applies it to his selection of poems. In inevitable inclusions such as 'Song of Myself', 'Mannahatta' and 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry', we see Whitman the oracular poet, bringing into his egalitarian imagination the disparate bustle and brio of nineteenth-century New York and ordering them in verse. But when we read alongisde these poems 'Ashes of Soldiers', 'When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd', 'Native Moments' and 'Once I Pass'd through a Populous City', we begin to recognise the truth in Van Doren's thesis.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. H. Henriksen on August 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Not having read the entire book yet, I am not eligible for evaluating it as a whole. However, the poems that I have read amaze me and they are the reason why I call Whitman my favourite poet.
First and foremost, Whitman follows Emerson's thread of thougth in his nature-loving poetry, but Whitman allows himself fewer limits: He not only writes in free verse, he also writes explicitly about his sexuality.
His power, though, lies in his ability to take everyday things and use them in what we might call catalogue rhetoric: In a way he is just making drafts without logics. This is his way of putting everyday America into a poem. And it works. We may wonder what his point is, but Whitman is about sensation, not logics, and the feeling you experience when you read 'Song of Myself', his masterpiece, is truly unique. It is the same feeling you have when you see a beautful forest or sunset. This is poetry at its best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TSO on July 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Formatting is very good. However, while the linked TOC is there and enabled on the go-to menu (broken on some other Penguin editions), there is no links to individual poems. Nor are there annotated links.

This would normally be a passable edition, but if the publisher is charging a hefty $17 (the same amount as paper), then there had better be some technical jazz and other content to make it worthwhile.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Whitman is the great American poet. Emily Dickinson has a greatness more metaphorically striking and acutely original in thought. And Wallace Stevens has a music which in its intellectual complexity perhaps transcends that of Whitman.

But Whitman is as Emerson rightly understood the essential American poet.

He is the voice of the new world, of a new land, of a new conception of mankind greater and more hopeful than any seen before. He is the cataloguer of continents and the master maker of the music of ordinary places and people.

He feels most deeply into the American story and is the great democrat of American poetry. His long lines have a freedom and a sense of expansiveness which embrace worlds and celebrate the sights and sounds of his native land. He more than anyone understood the poetry of American place-names. And he had a feeling for the natural motion of America's teeming new cities and long distant shores.

His 'Song of the Self' is a heroic American assertion of Mankind in its great exuberance of hopefulness. Yet no one more than him felt the pain of America's Civil War and its suffering, the lilacs that last in the dooryard bloomed.

There are certain parts of his great poem, set pieces such as 'When I heard the learned Astronomer ' or his lines on the observation of Animals that provide a kind of wake- up shock, a kind of revelation of Thought as Beauty.

He is the definitive American poet, whether we like every aspect of his barbaric yawp or not. Or whether we sometimes feel that his celebrations are misplaced and his self- singings mere aggrandizements.
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