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Walt Whitman: The Song of Himself Paperback – October 2, 2000
"My Father, the Pornographer" by Fang Lizhi
A son tries to understand his late father, by reading the 400-plus novels left to him in his father's will. Check out "My Father, the Pornographer".
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Whitman's success is most likely the result of the approachability--he wrote often of the immediate: the sounds of the city, men bathing in the river, the mystery around the next corner--and sheer beauty of his poems. He was also an expert self-promoter. Long before the advent of the blurb in contemporary publishing, Whitman would include reviews of his books in the appendices. Many of these were actually written by him and a few were even critical, in order to maintain a sense of objectivity. He carefully controlled his public image, but assiduously guarded his private realm, which is why, more than a century after the poet's death, debate still rages about his sexual proclivity--there simply isn't enough proof one way or another. The Song of Himself, the first comprehensive biography of Whitman in 20 years, is rich with details of its subject's life and times and cogent analysis of his poetry--a book that is sure to increase readers' understanding of the great poet and reinvigorate their interest in his work. --Anna Baldwin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
On the issues currently 'hot' in debate about the poet (his homosexuality or lack thereof, his attitudes towards immigrants, women, and African-Americans), Loving doesn't succumb to the temptation to either sanctify his subject or make him simply a partisan of the current opinions, but rather weighs and presents the evidence in as close to an impartial manner as I've seen. The lack of a simplistic, overarching narrative to Loving's life of Whitman (the kind of narrative found in many other bios) is true to the facts of life and scholarship--sometimes we can't know. I've found this book scrupulously up-to-date; it corrects many factual errors found in earlier Whitman bios. It is required reading for any Whitman scholar, and a good read as well for those interested in knowing more about the Good Grey Poet than his poems tell us by themselves.
I could conclude that Loving did not wish to guess -- but on several occasions in the book he speculates freely and without tons of support. I guess I would have prefered more freedom to speculate by the scholar.
Still - if the reader is seeking a landscape upon which to speculate this should indeed be ample.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simply, this is the worst biography I have read in a long time. It is boring, it drags and, even though it is a work of non-fiction, it could have been more creatively written. Read morePublished on November 7, 2011 by Pepper
The poet died in 1892. In life he became notorious and a positive influence on the reformers of the day. Read morePublished on July 31, 2003 by Mary E. Sibley