WALT WHITMAN: Builder for America by Bahetta Deutsch
Kirkus Star

WALT WHITMAN: Builder for America

Email this review


This is the winner of the Julia Ellsworth Ford award, a distinguished biography of a great poet by a modern poet. On these grounds alone it is certain of wide recognition and acceptance. In its own right, it has so much to recommend it that it seems captions to suggest that somehow, for me at least, Walt Whitman does not quite come alive. The facts are there, and not too obviously marshalled. The period is well drawn, though sometimes one feels that, while Babette Deutsch has stated with sufficient emphasis the scruptions caused by his deviations from the conventional, she has not made one feel the effect on his contemporaries. One does not feel him as magnificent and commanding a figure as his subsequent influence has shown him to be. She fails, almost wholly, to give him his place in the stream of American letters --that the reader must do for himself. The last part of the book quotes generously from his works (one questions some of the inclusions. Would they lead young readers into more Whitman or less?) It is a nature appraisal -- its market should not be limited to younger market.

Publisher: Messner