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Walt Whitman: A Life
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Walt Whitman: A Life

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  163 Ratings  ·  18 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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(showing 1-30 of 431)
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Brian Bess
Jun 12, 2014 Brian Bess rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2014 Stephen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Webster Bull
Jul 05, 2011 Webster Bull rated it it was amazing
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,
Dana Ingram
Dec 14, 2015 Dana Ingram rated it it was amazing
Kaplan brings to life one of America's greatest, and most enigmatic, literary figures. In every way intimate, Kaplan's greatest achievements are, first, the portrait of an artist on the verge of greatness, and, second, a tender vision of a great artist's final days. If you love Whitman's poetry, you must love this book, too.
Oct 08, 2014 Ross rated it liked it
A solid overview of the life of WW. Took it up as I was re-reading the preface to the 1855 edition and realized I wanted some context. This bio served that purpose, though the steam seemed to run out after the period of the civil war. Was that the biographer or the life itself?
Eugene Melino
Jan 01, 2015 Eugene Melino rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this biography tremendously. It is a great introduction to Whitman's poetry and prose. Kaplan provides a clear historical and biographical context.
Jan 29, 2015 Marvin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I made the best try at reading this book but after 199 pages I have called it quits. I was very interested in Whitman and this book was certainly a complete history of him. However, and its a big however, this book is an ordeal to read. It's pace is as arduous, and convoluted as any work I have ever read. Mr. Kaplan certainly knows his stuff when it comes to Whitman, but I am beat by the style and overall mass of fact that is presented. I have acquired another book by Mr. Kaplan about Mark Twain ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Stephen rated it it was ok
Well referenced; sometimes tedious
Apr 04, 2011 Mitzi rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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
Sarah Walsh
Jan 31, 2015 Sarah Walsh rated it liked it
An interesting read. I prefer Walt Whitman by David S. Reynolds.
David A-S
Jan 15, 2016 David A-S rated it liked it
An overview of his life and work, it is written in a readable format. Somehow though it is not as compelling as whitman's poetry. On the other hand, I am glad I read it to get a sense of where his writing comes from.
Aug 18, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2008 Douglas rated it liked it
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.
Netanel Miles-Yepez
Not thrilled with the structure or the style of this biography. It seemed to me that he had buried his narrative.
Mar 29, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-old-books
My review is on my blog:
Warren Perry
Kaplan has the take on the man of Mickle Street.
Sep 10, 2007 Neil rated it really liked it
Shelves: amlit, non-fiction
cuts to the chase. Great research.
Feb 08, 2015 Ian rated it liked it
Shelves: own
an informative biography
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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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