Laws for Creations

Overview

In Walt Whitman, Michael Cunningham sees a poet whose vision of humanity is ecstatic, democratic, and sensuous. Just over a hundred years ago, Whitman celebrated America as it survived the Civil War, as it endured great poverty, and as it entered the Industrial Revolution, which would make it the most powerful nation on Earth. In Specimen Days Michael Cunningham makes Whitman's verse sing across time, and in Laws for Creations he celebrates what Whitman means to him, and how he ...

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Overview

In Walt Whitman, Michael Cunningham sees a poet whose vision of humanity is ecstatic, democratic, and sensuous. Just over a hundred years ago, Whitman celebrated America as it survived the Civil War, as it endured great poverty, and as it entered the Industrial Revolution, which would make it the most powerful nation on Earth. In Specimen Days Michael Cunningham makes Whitman's verse sing across time, and in Laws for Creations he celebrates what Whitman means to him, and how he appeared at the heart of his new novel.

Just as the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours drew on the life and work of English novelist Viriginia Woolf, Specimen Days lovingly features the work of American poet Walt Whitman. Bringing together extracts from Whitman's prodigious writings, including Leaves of Grass and his journal, Specimen Days, Michael Cunningham's Laws for Creations provides an introduction to one of America's greatest visionary poets from one of our greatest contemporary novelists.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312426071
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 4/18/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,466,285
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is the author of the bestselling novel The Hours, which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film, A Home at the End of the World, also adapted for the screen, and Flesh and Blood, all published by FSG. He lives in New York.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 6, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cincinnati, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Stanford University, 1975; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1980
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

In college, after I gave up modeling myself on Bob Dylan (I had trouble with his conversion to Christianity) and then on Genet (I just wasn't French enough), I decided to try to become as much as possible like Walt Whitman. What propelled me was not the beauty of Whitman's language (I was an undergraduate English major; I was drowning in the beautiful language of the dead) but the following passage, which I read late one night in my dormitory room as Pink Floyd seeped through the wall from the room next to mine:

Camerado, this is no book,

Who touches this touches a man,

(Is it night? are we here alone together?)

It is I you hold and who holds you,

I spring from the pages into your arms. . . .

Never before had a writer leaped off the page and touched me like that: directly, personally, erotically. It was my first experience of literature's ability to telescope time--to forcefully remind the living that the no-longer-living were not only once as alive as we are now but were capable of imagining us, and a future with us in it, as vividly as we imagine them in the past. If it didn't quite tear a hole in the fabric of mortality, it stretched it a considerable distance.

...

Copyright © 2006 by Mare Vaporum Corp

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Michael Cunningham

Poetry
Selection from Leaves of Grass, The First Edition, 1855
"I celebrate myself"

Selections from Leaves of Grass, The Final Edition, 1891-1892

From "Inscriptions"
Poets to Come

From "Children of Adam"
I Sing the Body Electric (first stanza)

From "Calamus"
City of Orgies
To a Stranger
Full of Life Now

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Song of the Answerer (first stanza)
Song of the Broad-Axe (fourth stanza)

From "Birds of Passage"
To You

From "Sea Drift"
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

From "Drum-Taps"
Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun

From "Autumn Rivulets"
There Was a Child Went Forth
Laws for Creations
The Sleepers (first stanza)

From "Whispers of Heavenly Death"
Whispers of Heavenly Death
O Living Always, Always Dying

From "From Noon to Starry Night"
Mannahatta
As I Walk These Broad Majectic Days
A Clear Midnight

From "Songs of Parting"
As the Time Draws Nigh
My Legacy
So Long!

Prose
Selections from Specimen Days, 1882-1883
Opening of the Secession War
A Secesh Brave
A Night Battle, Over a Week Since
Battle of Gettysburg
Death of a Hero
Thoughts Under an Oak--A Dream
New Senses--New Joys
Nature and Democracy--Morality

Selections from Collect, 1882-1883
Darwinism--(Then Furthermore)
Monuments--The Past and the Present
The Last Collective Compaction

Preface to Leaves of Grass, The Final Edition, 1891-1892: A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Roads

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