Walt Whitman: A Life
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Walt Whitman: A Life

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Whitman's genius, passions, poetry, and androgynous sensibility entwined to create an exuberant life amid the turbulent American mid-nineteenth century. In vivid detail, Kaplan examines the mysterious selves of the enigmatic man who celebrated the freedom and dignity of the individual and sang the praises of democracy and the brotherhood of man.
Paperback, 464 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published October 1st 1980)
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Brian Bess
Nineteenth-century America's androgynous bard

In his way, Walt Whitman just as boldly challenged the social and cultural customs of the United States of his era as Oscar Wilde did of his. Perhaps he was more circumspect in handling his private affairs. Perhaps the fact that he had no wife and children to neglect and made no mistake of having an affair with an upper class young man with a very powerful and vindictive parent and primarily wrote sensual yet universal poetry rather than prose narrati...more
Fine research about a very interesting life, but it's a shame that a biography about an author who could write so beautifully, should itself be so poorly written.

How could this sentence get past an editor "Instead of glories Whitman had horrors previously unimaginable strung like beads on his smallest sights and hearings."

Or this whopper, “The night in August 1860 that Howells overcame his dread of Gomorrah and visited Pfaff’s fragrant temple of tobacco smoke, lager beer, Rhine wine, wurst and s...more
Webster Bull
I first read this book when it was published in 1980. Ever since I won a 5th-grade public speaking contest reciting "O Captain! My Captain!" I have been interested in Whitman. He is the great American poet, because no poet, not Robert Frost, certainly not Emily Dicksinson, speaks more fully of and for America. (Frost speaks largely for New England. Whitman, a New Yorker who seldom traveled across the Hudson River, spoke for all.)

Kaplan's book is a masterpiece. It begins at the end, with Whitman,...more
an informative biography
I was excited to read this book, I hadn't read a biography of Whitman before, and it didn't let me down as far as facts go... Kaplan provides enough interesting points about Whitman's life that I felt the book was worth reading. On the other hand, the way it is written was less than stellar - it felt more like a collection of disjointed notes rather than a coherent narrative. In the end I finished it only because I was interested in Whitman's life, not because the book itself was interesting, if...more
While the book could be dry at times, I found the analysis of Whitman's personality interesting. He was into self-promotion. I found that interesting from a man who wished to be the voice of America.
A well-researched bio of a truly ground-breaking artist whose life, flawed as it was is definitely worth examining. However, the style was a bit dry.
Christopher Daniel Miles
Not thrilled with the structure or the style of this biography. It seemed to me that he had buried his narrative.
Warren Perry
Kaplan has the take on the man of Mickle Street.
cuts to the chase. Great research.
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - Walt Whitman: A Life by Justin Kaplan 1 6 Jun 12, 2014 01:53PM  
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