Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians

Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians

by Justin Martin


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In the shadow of the Civil War, a circle of radicals in a rowdy saloon changed American society and helped set Walt Whitman on the path to poetic immortality.

Rebel Souls is the first book ever written about the colorful group of artists- regulars at Pfaff's Saloon in Manhattan-rightly considered America's original Bohemians. Besides a young Whitman, the circle included actor Edwin Booth; trailblazing stand-up comic Artemus Ward; psychedelic drug pioneer and author Fitz Hugh Ludlow; and brazen performer Adah Menken, famous for her Naked Lady routine. Central to their times, the artists managed to forge connections with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, and even Abraham Lincoln. This vibrant tale, packed with original research, offers the pleasures of a great group biography like The Banquet Years or The Metaphysical Club. Justin Martin shows how this first bohemian culture-imported from Paris to a dingy Broadway saloon-seeded and nurtured an American tradition of rebel art that thrives to this day.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306822261
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Series: A Merloyd Lawrence Book Series
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Justin Martin is the author of three highly praised previous biographies: Greenspan: the Man behind Money, Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon, and Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. As one of the few journalists to gain access to Greenspan, Martin produced a best-selling biography of the secretive Fed chairman, selected as a notable book by the New York Times Book Review. Martin's Nader biography served as a primary source for An Unreasonable Man , an Academy Award–nominated documentary. Genius of Place, the first full scale biography of Olmsted received glowing reviews nationally. Martin's articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Fortune, Newsweek, and the San Francisco Chronicle .

Table of Contents

Photo Credits xi

Introduction: A Visit to Pfaff's 1

1 Bohemia Crosses the Atlantic 5

2 A Long Table in Vaulted Room 17

3 Whitman at a Crossroads 31

4 Hashish and Shakespeare 47

5 Bold Women and Whitman's Beautiful Boys 63

6 The Saturday Press 79

7 Leaves, Third Edition 95

8 Year of Meteors 109

9 Becoming Artemus Ward 127

10 "The Heather Is on Fire" 135

11 Whitman to the Front 153

12 Bohemia Goes West 167

13 The Soldiers' Missionary 189

14 Twain They Shall Meet 203

15 "O heart! heart! heart!" 219

16 A Brief Revival 237

17 All Fall Down 245

18 "Those Times, That Place" 263

Acknowledgments 273

Notes 277

Further Exploration 317

Index 323

About the author 340

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