Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow At 200

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The most popular American poet of his day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a multiculturalist before the term was invented. He passionately believed in the value of foreign travel and conceived of American literature as deeply "transatlantic." A polyglot poet-scholar, the first American to translate Dante's entire Divine Comedy, he was also a hands-on, unconventional father who produced numerous Edward Lear-like drawings for the entertainment of his children.

Based on an exhibition at Harvard's Houghton Library and orginally published as a special issue of the Harvard Library Bulletin, this volume offers an innovative view of the poet's personal life, his connection with his audience, and his efforts to add an international dimension to American literature. Profusely illustrated with manuscripts, drawings, and photographs from the extensive collections of Houghton Library and the Longfellow National Historic Site, it demonstrates how intensely involved Longfellow was in family, fatherhood, and friendship. It also shows how these supposedly "private" aspects of his life constantly intersected with the more public aspects of his understanding of authorship, his collaborative projects, and his commitment to his readers. The result is a vivid introduction to Longfellow's world.

Published in cooperation with Houghton Library, Harvard University.

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Editorial Reviews

Lovers of literature...will surely enjoy 'Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200' by Christoph Irmscher. . . . This book combines both excellent scholarship and a valuable look at the whole man in terms of his family, his friends, and his life in the spotlight.
—Alan Caruba
This lively, provocative study encourages new Americanist reconfigurations of American literary studies to include global considerations. . . . Essential.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558495845
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

A Note on Quotations xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 From Portland to Cambridge 17

Chapter 2 Travel 35

Chapter 3 Family 57

Chapter 4 Friends 77

Chapter 5 The Public Poet 105

Chapter 6 Longfellow's Readers 131

Chapter 7 Longfellow as Translator, Longfellow in Translation 153

Chapter 8 "Weltliteratur" 169

Coda The Longfellow Collections in Cambridge 187

Suggested Reading 195

Chronology: The Shape of a Life 199

Index 211

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