Whitman the Political Poet

Whitman the Political Poet

4.18 (11 ratings by Goodreads)
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Recent critical studies have emphasized the formal, mystical, and psychological dimensions of Walt Whitman's art, dwelling mainly upon his Emersonian and Transcendental sources. This study is the first book to undertake a detailed analysis of Whitman's entire work in relation to the political struggles of the 19th century. Erkkila repairs the split between the private and the public, the personal and the political, the poet and history, that has in the past defined the analysis and evaluation of Whitman's work. Her approach combines close reading and historicist analysis, examining his poems as both products and agents of the political culture of his time. Among the topics explored are the ways in which the politics of race, class, gender, capital, technology, western expansion, and war enter into the poetic design of "Leaves of Grass"; the relation between Whitman's (homo)sexual body and the body politic of his poems; and the ways in which the Civil War and its aftermath affected Whitman's artistic ordering and reordering of his work.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 364 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 26mm | 559.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • halftones
  • 0195113802
  • 9780195113808
  • 1,725,718

Review quote

"A useful book for both the specialist and the student. It succeeds more fully than previous studies in placing the Whitman canon in a socio-political frame."-Lawrence Buell, Oberlin College "Erkkila has written what will surely be both a major resource for Whitman scholars and an important contribution to the growing body of recent work investigating the relations between literary and political culture in nineteenth-century America....Extraordinary in its scope....A major achievement. It will permanently alter our sense of its subject and should remain one of the indispensable books on Whitman for many years to come."-Modern Philology "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 "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 "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 "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 "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, Berkeleyshow more

Rating details

11 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 55% (6)
4 9% (1)
3 36% (4)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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