WALT WHITMAN by Catherine Reef

WALT WHITMAN

Age Range: 9 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A handsome and affectionate biography, full of quotes from Whitman's poetry and prose, b&w photographs of him and his contemporaries, paintings and etchings of their world, and reproductions of Whitman's handwriting. A poet who lived his life with biographers in mind, the man is a rewarding subject: His personality is a window both into his poetry and into US history. Reef provides balance between these two aspects, linking literary criticism (interpreting Whitman's poems and ideas, looking at their reception, and explaining their significance in light of their contemporary poetry) to history (descriptions of New York City in the 1830s40s, and the US of the mid-19th century, particularly the Civil War)--and framing both in an evocative, overarching portrait of the charismatic personality that ``contained multitudes.'' Reef is a wise, steady narrator, and ever solicitous toward readers, weaving lyrical, analytical, and psychological curlicues around the straightforward chronology of Whitman's life, moving around him, looking at him from different distances; the text never flags. On top of all this, the photographs provide as rich a documentation as anyone could wish for of the growth and graying of Whitman's beard. (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9+)

Pub Date: April 24th, 1995
ISBN: 0-395-68705-5
Page count: 148pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1995




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