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Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography Paperback – March 19, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
What stands out in this book is the way Reynolds weaves together not only Whitman's life but also the context of the period, which makes it so much easier to understand what Walt was saying. Reynolds is without doubt the best explainer of this period, as it applies to literature, and reading this book is both a pleasure and an enlightening experience, providing a history lesson at the same time as it looks at Whitman's writings.
A must-read book for any Whitman fan.
Reynolds shows how Whitman was of his culture and why he is an authentic American voice. Whitman gave the new country a new poetry, a poetry that broke the bounds of format and content. He gave poetry zest, a proud "I" and what we consider today, a healthy view of the body and sex. The cultural biography concept is most appropriate for this poet.
Reynolds draws the picture of the world that shaped Whitman, and then the greatly changed world following the Civil War. Following President Polk, the nation seemed to be drifting. There was economic and political turmoil. The long festering problem of slavery was coming to a boil. It was in this period that Whitman did the work we remember him for.
Reynolds reminds us that in Whitman's time, the continued unification of the states was not a settled issue. Whitman wrote of the unity of all the people and parts of the country. He wrote that he was a poet for slave and master, the man and the woman. When he wrote that he Heard America Singing and named all the classes and their endeavors, he was extolling the united country.Read more ›
Reynolds also does a good job of describing Whitman's own ambitions and efforts at persona management. Poets are now so unpopular and so much in a realm of their own that we are surprised that the father of modern poetry hoped to be quoted frequently and by all types.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Am enjoying the book greatly. Love the style of writing but David S. Reynolds. A lot of information that as an immigrant I was not aware of about life in the states at the time... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sp Johnson
An extremely significant volume that places Whitman and his work in the midst of American social, cultural, and political history, revealing how he was shaped by figures and events... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Andrew Wainwright
Great book. Underrated. Really gives a sense of this country when WW was writing about it.Published 11 months ago by Big Papi
I originally ordered this book as a resource for a research paper, but found myself drawn into this fascinating insight into Whitman the man. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Barry R. Suttle
Excellent book covering in detail the socio-economic and political context in which Whitman lived and worked. Read morePublished on December 25, 2013 by Ellen
Walt Whitman wrote that a poet fails "if he does not flood himself with the immediate age as with vast oceanic tides * * * if he be not himself the age transfigured. Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by R. M. Peterson
Despite considerable redundancy and the tedious habit of informing the reader that certain aspects of Whitman's life and works
"have heretofore gone unnoticed by other... Read more
Although it was informational, the book was not at all interesting to read. This definitely could have been done in a more concise manner with less dragging.Published on October 23, 2013 by April