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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

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Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855)

There had been no books like Leaves of Grass before it appeared in 1855, and there have been few books like it since. The first edition of Whitman's opus contained only twelve poems and a striking engraving of their author staring down the reader. Whitman spent the rest of his life revising and adding to it. Whitman's poems are bold, beautiful, musical, and true. Read them.

Library of America, Whitman: Poetry and Prose (1982)

Walt Whitman isn't like other writers, who have clearly defined bibliographies of individual books. His life's work was Leaves of Grass, a collection revised so many times that it is really several books in one. He also wrote assorted poetry and prose that is collected here in this volume. Read it to get a sense of Whitman beyond Leaves.

Justin Kaplan, Walt Whitman: A Life (1980)

Whitman scholar Kaplan wrote this definitive biography of the poet's life. Kaplan is a gifted biographer (he won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of American icon Mark Twain). And his narrative of Whitman's passionate, uniquely American life is an engaging read.

David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography (1996)

"I know very well that my 'Leaves' could not possibly have emerged or been fashion'd or completed, from any other era than the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, nor any other land than democratic America," _CITATION41_ Whitman once said. Popular culture played an important role in shaping Walt Whitman and his poetry. Reynolds' biography looks at Whitman as a product of his time and place; it also unearths some interesting insights on nineteenth century America in the process.

Roy Morris, The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War (2001)

When Walt Whitman received news that his Union soldier brother had been wounded in the Civil War, he rushed from New York to Washington, D.C. to find him. When he got there, he found that his brother was safe, but thousands more wounded men were in desperate need of care. He volunteered as a nurse. This biography examines Whitman's experience in the Civil War, which was an important, transformative episode of his life.

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