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Walt Whitman: An Interpretation in Narrative: A Biography & Critical Analysis


Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself,
I am large, I contain multitudes.
-Walt Whitman

Emory Holloway’s biography of “America’s Poet” – Walt Whitman – is a revelation and the first biography of a literary figure to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Taking us deep into the author’s past, Holloway outlines for the first time previously unknown details about the famed poet – from his childhood in Long Island and early upbringing in Brooklyn, to his early success as a journalist and Editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, teacher, and government employee aiding the wounded in Washington D.C. during the American Civil War.

Holloway spends enormous time discussing the poet’s influences – from contemporary authors, religion, and alcohol, to Shakespeare, nude sun-bathing, and budding Nationalism. Yet more than anything, Holloway outlines the human that was Walt Whitman – not merely an essayist or poet, but a humanist who was part of the transcendentalist movement and deeply committed to speaking his own truth. Indeed, never one to shy away from controversy, Whitman’s collections – specifically Leaves of Grass, the 1855 collection he published with his own money – were regarded as overtly sensual at the time, bringing as much criticism to the work and the poet himself as it did praise. Holloway further delves into this narrative, studying these themes of sexuality and homosexuality, and outlining the impact that they had on the cultural zeitgeist of the time.

Walt Whitman is rightly regarded as one of the most influential poets of the American century and often cited as the father of “free verse.” Whitman: An Interpretation Through Narrative – is essential reading to understand both the poems and the genius poet behind them.

About the Author: Rufus Emory Holloway Jr. was an American literary scholar-educator most known for his books and studies of Walt Whitman.


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