Whitman the Political Poet

Overview

This is the first study to undertake a detailed analysis of Whitman's entire work in relation to the political struggles of the nineteenth century. Erkkila examines the sources of Leaves of Grass in revolutionary ideology, American working class culture, the anti-slavery struggle, the Civil War, and its aftermath. Focusing on broader cultural debates about the body, women, and sexual love between men, she looks at the relation between democracy and homosexuality in Whitman's poetry and the revolutionary legacy of...
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Overview

This is the first study to undertake a detailed analysis of Whitman's entire work in relation to the political struggles of the nineteenth century. Erkkila examines the sources of Leaves of Grass in revolutionary ideology, American working class culture, the anti-slavery struggle, the Civil War, and its aftermath. Focusing on broader cultural debates about the body, women, and sexual love between men, she looks at the relation between democracy and homosexuality in Whitman's poetry and the revolutionary legacy of his life and work.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Simply one of the best books ever written on Whitman. Virtually every page of it is persuasive and much is entirely original.... Without question, it will be one of the books on Whitman that every reader should own."--Eric Sundquist, University of California, Berkeley

"Erkkila presents an extraordinary account of how Whitman's political purposes informed the most fundamental choices of his life and career, and in so doing she has written what is surely one of the two or three most valuable one-volume studies of Whitman ever produced."--South Atlantic Review

"A welcome attempt to show Whitman as writer and man living in and reacting to the political environment of his age....Her book is thorough and convincingly argued, and makes an important contribution to the study of American literature and culture."--Choice

"She always has something to say about the larger inferences of his work, about the assumptions behind it and the contradictions often hidden in those assumptions, and about the uneasy relation between Whitman's thought and the thought of his time....Will help most readers better to grasp the detail within the whole arc of Whitman's ideas."--Times Literary Supplement

"No other work has dealt so well and so fully with Whitman's political ideology or made so fine a connection between Whitman's sense of his artistic mission and his political-ideological orientation....Lucid, comprehensive, and well-reasoned, Professor Erkkila's book fills a serious need in Whitman studies both as a source book and as a orrective to other interpretations."--Journal of English & Germanic Philology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195113808
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.43 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Table of Contents

1 A Revolutionary Formation 3
2 The Paradox of the American Republic 25
3 The Poet of Slaves and the Masters of Slaves 44
4 Aesthetics and Politics 68
5 Leaves of Grass and the Body Politic 92
6 The Fractured State 129
7 Democracy and (Homo)Sexual Desire 155
8 The Union War 190
9 Burying President Lincoln 226
10 "Who Bridle Leviathan?" 240
11 The Poetics of Reconstruction 260
12 Representing America 293
13 "How Dangerous, How Alive" 308
Notes 324
Index 349
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