From Publishers Weekly
Though now regarded as a forefather of modern American poetry, Whitman was once reviled by the New England literati. Editor and scholar Genoways (Walt Whitman: The Correspondence, Volume VII) begins his look at Whitman and the war with the efforts of publishers Thayer & Eldridge to promote the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass in the aftermath of radical abolitionist John Brown's execution. Quotes from editorials, journals and letters recreat the critical firestorm; biting witticisms parody Whitman's style and expose dated fears about women's consumption of "obscene" literature. The poet emerges as a witness in personal and public ways: as a spectator to one of Lincoln's pre-inaugural speeches, as the "Brooklyniana" essayist, and as a soldier's brother. Readers familiar with the collegial and sometimes fractious nature of editing and publishing are most likely to appreciate Genoways's research into Leaves of Grass's controversial reception, the subsequent failure of Thayer & Eldridge and the publishing industry's decline during the Civil War years, though general readers may find the narrative a bit slow-paced.
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“Genoways' account fills in a major gap in previous biographies of Whitman and rebuts the canard that Whitman was unaffected by the war and the run-up to it.”
(Jay Strafford Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A wonderful book.”
(Barbara Rich Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Va)
“Paints a vivid picture of an evolving America reacting to an internal conflict that virtually no one was prepared to address.”
“This compelling narrative will change the interpretation of Whitman and this time period. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Fascinating. . . . Interesting and original information . . . [is] uncovered through Genoways’ original research.”
(Helene Littmann Journal Of Historical Biography