Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography

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Winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Award and
Finalist for the National for the Book Critics Circle Award

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.
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About the author

David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of American Literature and American Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has previously taught at Rutgers University, New York University, Barnard College, and Northwestern University. He is the author of the monumental Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville, winner of the Christian Gauss award.  His other publications include Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religious Literature in America;George Lippard; and George Lippard, Prophet of Protest: Writintgs of an American Radical, 1822-1854 (edited anthology). He is the editor of George Lippard's novel The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall and the author of numerous articles and reviews in the field of American literature and culture, including "Of Me I Sing: Whitman in His Time" (The New York Times Book Review).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
May 4, 2011
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Pages
704
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ISBN
9780307761927
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Literary Figures
History / United States / 19th Century
Poetry / American / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The inspiration for the major motion picture Rebel in the Rye

One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, the author of the classic Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now he is the subject of this definitive biography, which is filled with new information and revelations garnered from countless interviews, letters, and public records.

Kenneth Slawenski explores Salinger’s privileged youth, long obscured by misrepresentation and rumor, revealing the brilliant, sarcastic, vulnerable son of a disapproving father and doting mother. Here too are accounts of Salinger’s first broken heart—after Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, left him—and the devastating World War II service that haunted him forever. J. D. Salinger features this author’s dramatic encounters with luminaries from Ernest Hemingway to Elia Kazan, his office intrigues with famous New Yorker editors and writers, and the stunning triumph of The Catcher in the Rye, which would both make him world-famous and hasten his retreat into the hills of New Hampshire. J. D. Salinger is this unique author’s unforgettable story in full—one that no lover of literature can afford to miss.

Praise for J. D. Salinger: A Life
 
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A new biography of Sylvia Plath, a literary icon who continues to haunt, fascinate, and enthrall even now, fifty years after her death

On February 25 , 1956, twenty-three-year-old Sylvia Plath walked into a party and immediately spotted Ted Hughes. This encounter—now one of the most famous in all of literary history—was recorded by Plath in her journal, where she described Hughes as a “big, dark, hunky boy.” Sylvia viewed Ted as something of a colossus, and to this day his enormous shadow has obscured her life and work. The sensational aspects of the Plath-Hughes relationship have dominated the cultural landscape to such an extent that their story has taken on the resonance of a modern myth.

Before she met Ted, Plath had lived a complex, creative, and disturbing life. Her father had died when she was only eight; she had gone out with literally hundreds of men, had been unofficially engaged, had tried to commit suicide, and had written more than two hundred poems. Mad Girl’s Love Song chronicles these early years, traces the sources of her mental instability, and examines how a range of personal, economic, and societal factors—the real disquieting muses— conspired against her.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with friends and lovers who have never spoken openly about Plath before and using previously unavailable archives and papers, this is the first book to focus on the early life of the twentieth century’s most popular and enduring female poet. Mad Girl’s Love Song reclaims Sylvia Plath from the tangle of emotions associated with her relationship with Ted Hughes and reveals the origins of her unsettled and unsettling voice.
As featured in AMC's Breaking Bad, given by Gale Boetticher to Walter White and discovered by Hank Schrader. "I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease....observing a spear of summer grass." So begins Leaves of Grass, the first great American poem and indeed, to this day, the greatest and most essentially American poem in all our national literature. The publication of Leaves of Grass in July 1855 was a landmark event in literary history. Ralph Waldo Emerson judged the book "the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed." Nothing like the volume had ever appeared before. Everything about it--the unusual jacket and title page, the exuberant preface, the twelve free-flowing, untitled poems embracing every realm of experience--was new. The 1855 edition broke new ground in its relaxed style, which prefigured free verse; in its sexual candor; in its images of racial bonding and democratic togetherness; and in the intensity of its affirmation of the sanctity of the physical world. This Anniversary Edition captures the typeface, design and layout of the original edition supervised by Whitman himself. Today's readers get a sense of the "ur-text" of Leaves of Grass, the first version of this historic volume, before Whitman made many revisions of both format and style. The volume also boasts an afterword by Whitman authority David Reynolds, in which he discusses the 1855 edition in its social and cultural contexts: its background, its reception, and its contributions to literary history. There is also an appendix containing the early responses to the volume, including Emerson's letter, Whitman's three self-reviews, and the twenty other known reviews published in various newspapers and magazines. This special volume will be a must-have keepsake for fans of Whitman and lovers of American poetry.
The Routledge Encyclopedia of Walt Whitman presents a comprehensive resource complied by over 200 internationally recognized contributors, including such leading Whitman scholars as James E. Miller, Jr., Roger Asselineau, Betsy Erkkila, and Joel Myerson.

Now available for the first time in paperback, this volume comprises more than 750 entries arranged in convenient alphabetical format. Coverage includes:

biographical information: all names, dates, places, and events important to understanding Whitman's life and career Whitman's works: essays on all eight editions of "Leaves of Grass," major poems and poem clusters, principal essays and prose works, as well as his more than two dozen short stories and the novel, Franklin Evans prominent themes and concepts: essays on such major topics as democracy, slavery, the Civil War, immortality, sexuality, and the women's rights movement. significant forms and techniques: such as prosody, symbolism, free verse, and humour important trends and critical approaches in Whitman studies: including new historicist and cultural criticism, psychological explorations, and controversial issues of sexual identity surveys of Whitman's international impact as well as an assessment of his literary legacy.

Useful for students, researchers, librarians, teachers, and Whitman devotees, this volume features extensive cross-references, numerous photographs of the poet, a chronology, a special appendix section tracking the poet's genealogy, and a thorough index. Each entry includes a bibliography for further study.

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