Walt Whitman's America by David S. Reynolds
A Cultural Biography

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Synopsis

In his poetry Walt Whitman set out to encompass all of America and in so doing heal its deepening divisions. This magisterial biography demonstrates the epic scale of his achievement, as well as the dreams and anxieties that impelled it, for it places the poet securely within the political and cultural context of his age.

Combing through the full range of Whitman's writing, David Reynolds shows how Whitman gathered inspiration from every stratum of nineteenth-century American life: the convulsions of slavery and depression; the raffish dandyism of the Bowery "b'hoys"; the exuberant rhetoric of actors, orators, and divines. We see how Whitman reconciled his own sexuality with contemporary social mores and how his energetic courtship of the public presaged the vogues of advertising and celebrity. Brilliantly researched, captivatingly told, Walt Whitman's America is a triumphant work of scholarship that breathes new life into the biographical genre.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About David S. Reynolds

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David S. Reynolds is the Bancroft Prize-winning author of Walt Whitman's America and a Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the City University of New York. He lives on Long Island.
 
Published May 4, 2011 by Vintage. 704 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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In a manner that will intrigue as well as inform the general reader, Reynolds maps out historical settings from the Era of Good Feelings, which collapsed in the panic of 1819, the year of Whitman's birth, through to the Gilded Age, in which Whitman's life came to a close.

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Literary historian Reynolds's biography of Whitman examines the poet within the broader social and cultural context of 19th-century America. (Mar.)

Mar 18 1996 | Read Full Review of Walt Whitman's America: A Cul...

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Poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), raised by a blunt, taciturn father who failed as a housebuilder and by a penny-pinching, barely literate mother, identified with working-class culture as he pursued a jo

Feb 27 1995 | Read Full Review of Walt Whitman's America: A Cul...

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As scholarship has made its importance to American letters more manifest, editions of the 1855 version of Whitman's masterpiece have multiplied.

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Literary historian Reynolds's biography of Whitman examines the poet within the broader social and cultural context of 19th-century America.

| Read Full Review of Walt Whitman's America: A Cul...

Publishers Weekly

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Poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892), raised by a blunt, taciturn father who failed as a housebuilder and by a penny-pinching, barely literate mother, identified with working-class culture as he pursued a job-hopping, insecure career as printer, schoolteacher and journalist.

| Read Full Review of Walt Whitman's America: A Cul...

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