Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902) grew up and practiced psychiatric medicine in London, Ontario, where he became Superintendent of the London Asylum. Bucke came to international prominence through his unusual friendship with Walt Whitman. Whitman served as an inspiration for Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness. In this work Bucke wrote his prescription for the human millennium, an apocalyptic vision with Whitman's Leaves of Grass as the Bible of Democracy.
Peter Rechnitzer unravels the complex threads of Bucke's life: his travel adventures, his denial of his father and his adoration of Whitman who becomes his Messiah. Bucke was convinced that only mankind itself can shape its future into perfection, and that guilt, penitence and absolution are regressive steps reversing the march to happiness.