Walt Whitman


Walt Whitman's passionate writing style and bold subject matter have deeply influenced American poetry. Nearly all of his poems were published in Leaves of Grass, which Whitman obsessively expanded, edited, and republished throughout his life, ultimately leaving behind a powerful literary legacy. This volume features a compelling selection of essays from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that offer students historical insights into Whitman and his works.
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Walt Whitman's passionate writing style and bold subject matter have deeply influenced American poetry. Nearly all of his poems were published in Leaves of Grass, which Whitman obsessively expanded, edited, and republished throughout his life, ultimately leaving behind a powerful literary legacy. This volume features a compelling selection of essays from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that offer students historical insights into Whitman and his works.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kristy Lyn Sutorius
This updated version of Bloom's Modern Critical Views staple takes a closer look at Walt Whitman or as editor Harold Bloom calls him, "the American Bard." For those who have spent minimal time with Whitman's prose poetry or have never laid eyes on his work, this compilation of essays by renowned scholars will prove invaluable. Contributors delve into a variety of topics, from Whitman himself, to the order of his poems in Leaves of Grass, from his democratic values to his use of contradictory terms, i.e., "the joy of death." His work is analyzed from various perspectives: religious, feminist, even journalistic, all providing thought-provoking, new insight into this revolutionary poet. The essay written by D. H. Lawrence in Whitman's own style is probably the most enjoyable essay of the book. Best suited for those who are seriously studying poetry or Whitman specifically in an advanced high school English class or a college setting, the challenging text and concepts encourage further study.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791092521
  • Publisher: Chelsea House Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Bloom's Modern Critical Views Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,437,335
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Series Introduction     ix
Introduction   Harold Bloom     xi
Biography     xv
Personal     3
A. Bronson Alcott (1856)     7
Moncure D. Conway "Walt Whitman" (1866)     7
William Douglas O'Connor "The Good Gray Poet: Supplement" (1866)     8
Robert Buchanan (1887)     8
Ernest Rhys "To Walt Whitman on His Seventieth Birthday" (1889)     9
Anonymous "Whitman's Obituary" (1892)     10
Edmund Clarence Stedman (1892)     16
Hamlin Garland "Walt Whitman" (1893)     16
General     19
Matthew Arnold (1866)     24
Ferdinand Freiligrath "Walt Whitman" (1868)     24
William Michael Rossetti (1869)     27
Anne Gilchrist (1869)     27
Peter Bayne "Walt Whitman's Poems" (1875)     28
Arthur Clive "Walt Whitman, the Poet of Joy" (1875)     30
George Eliot (1876)     30
William Michael Rossetti (1878)     31
John Ruskin (1879)     31
Edmund Clarence Stedman "Walt Whitman" (1880)     32
Fitzgerald Molloy "Leaders of Modern Thought" (1882)     49
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1882)     49
G.C. Macaulay "WaltWhitman" (1882)     50
Robert Louis Stevenson "Walt Whitman" (1882)     53
Sidney Lanier (1883)     59
George Selwyn "Walt Whitman at Camden" (1885)     61
Charles F. Richardson (1887)     61
Algernon Charles Swinburne "Whitmania" (1887)     62
Oliver Elton (1890)     70
Robert G. Ingersoll "Liberty in Literature" (1890)     72
William Clarke (1892)     72
Harriet Monroe "A Word about Walt Whitman" (1892)     74
Pauline W. Roose "A Child-Poet: Walt Whitman" (1892)     77
Richard Maurice Bucke "The Man Walt Whitman" (1893)     85
Barrett Wendell "American Literature" (1893)     86
William Morton Payne "Whitmaniana" (1893)     87
William Dean Howells "First Impressions of Literary New York" (1895)     87
Max Nordau (1895)     89
Willa Cather "Whitman" (1896)     90
William Sloane Kennedy "Whitman's Word-Music" (1896)     93
Henry Childs Merwin "Men and Letters" (1897)     101
Hallam Tennyson (1897)     101
John Jay Chapman "Walt Whitman" (1898)     101
Jennette Barbour Perry "Whitmania" (1898)     106
Thomas Wentworth Higginson "Whitman" (1899)     108
J.A. MacCulloch "Wak Whitman: The Poet of Brotherhood" (1899)     111
William James "A Contemporary Poet" (1899)     112
George Santayana "The Poetry of Barbarism: II. Walt Whitman" (1900)     113
William P. Trent (1903)     119
G.K. Chesterton "Conventions and the Hero" (1904)     120
Ezra Pound "What I Feel About Walt Whitman" (1909)     122
Virginia Woolf "Visits to Walt Whitman" (1918)     125
D.H. Lawrence "Poetry of the Present" (1920)     127
D.H. Lawrence "Whitman" (1921)     128
Works     139
Leaves of Grass     144
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1855)     144
Charles A. Dana (1855)     145
Walt Whitman (1855)     146
Rufus W. Griswold (1855)     148
Edward Everett Hale (1856)     150
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1856)     153
Anonymous (1856)     153
Henry David Thoreau (1856)     155
William Allingham (1857)     157
Anonymous "Innate Vulgarity" (1859)     157
Anonymous (1860)     153
Anonymous (1860)     158
George Saintsbury (1874)     160
Sidney Lanier (1878)     168
Edwin P. Whipple "American Literature" (1886)      169
Walter Lewin "Leaves of Grass" (1887)     169
John Addington Symonds "Democratic Art" (1890)     170
Walt Whitman "An Old Man's Rejoinder" (1890)     173
John Burroughs "His Ruling Ideas and Aims" (1896)     174
C.D. Lanier "Walt Whitman" (1902)     178
Calamus     179
John Addington Symonds "Walt Whitman: A Study" (1893)     179
Drum-Taps     135
Henry James "Mr. Walt Whitman" (1865)     185
William Dean Howells "Drum-Taps" (1865)     191
"Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"     195
Stephen E. Whicher "Whitman's Awakening to Death-Toward a Biographical Reading of 'Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking'" (1960)     195
"Passage to India"     202
V.K. Chari "Whitman and Indian Thought" (1959)     202
"Song of Myself"     203
Walker Kennedy "Walt Whitman" (1884)     203
Leslie Fiedler (1960)     211
Chronology     213
Index     216
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