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Comment: This book shows moderate to heavy shelf wear on the cover or jacket. This book has been read frequently resulting in bends or fold creases in many pages. The interior pages have crisp clear text, but some pages do show underlining, highlighting, or notes.
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Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 10, 1961

4.2 out of 5 stars 525 customer reviews

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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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-By Walt Whitman. Narrated by Flo Gibson.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (July 10, 1961)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140421998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140421996
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (525 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Stagaman on January 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book in the Spring of 1990 while browsing in a bookstore. I'm no student of poetry, in fact I only purchased it because I randomly flipped it open and was enamored with the passage I found. I learned that the passage is from "Song of Myself" and have read both that epic poem and the entire collection through dozens of times.

I didn't know exactly what I had purchased that day. But over time find that turning to Whitman's poetry and prose has been a source of comfort. I find myself in his writings, and find that his messages apply clearly in the present day. This volume is a pretty hefty way to start with Whitman--you get everything from the start. If you choose to buy it, I suggest randomly exploring it--stopping here and there to read a poem. I spent weeks exploring that way, only later did I read everything from start to finish. The simplicity of the writing and the clarity of meaning is remarkable.

The Library of America edition is--in itself--beautiful. Well bound, fine paper, still in excellent condition after 15 years of use. When reading it, it is impossible not to appreciate the caliber of it's manufacture: the choice of paper, inks, typefaces, binding, etc. contribute to pleasurable experience. I have a small number of other Library of America volumes, and each is exquisitely assembled and a joy to read. They are not inexpensive, but I'd argue that they are most definitely worth every penny.
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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Leaving aside, for the moment, a review of Whitman's writing itself, let me say that this edition (by the Library of America series) is the best one out there. I've been hard pressed to find works of Whitman that aren't included in this volume: it has both the 1855 and 1892 editions of Leaves of Grass, complete, and virtually all of his prose. It even includes several important pieces that Whitman didn't add to the final edition of his works during his lifetime.
Add to that the fact that these books are well made and wear well with time, and it's definitely worth the slightly higher price (especially with the amazon discount!).
Having said that - Whitman's poetry is of course wonderful, and his prose is just as great. A lot of people know about Leaves of Grass...how many, I wonder, have taken the time to read _Specimen Days_ and find out just how great of a writer Whitman really is? This volume is heartily reccomended to give you a great all-around picture of Whitman and his work. If you're coming to Whitman for the first time, a small paperback would probably be the better bet, but if you've gotten that far and want more, this is the only book you'll need.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
trinity. My debt and appreciation has never diminished to this threesome. In fact, only increases.

The reason that I came across the Library of America series is that after many years of use, my copy of 'Leaves of Grass' was giving way to time. I was looking for a quality hardcover that I would not only use over and over again, but one that looked elegant on my book shelf.

I am completely happy with both the quality of the book: binding, cover, print, paper and compactness as well as the contents. There are volumes of Whitman's written words available, and are worth the owning, but this collection captures his essence, and should go a long way in keeping the lover of 'Leaves of Grass' happy and satisfied.
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