RT Book, Whole DB /z-wcorg/ DS http://worldcat.org ID 30547827 LA English T1 Walt Whitman's America : a cultural biography A1 Reynolds, David S.,, PB Knopf PP New York YR 1995 SN 0394580230 9780394580234 AB Exploring the full range of writings by and about Whitman - not just his most famous work but also his earliest poems and stories, his conversations, letters, journals, newspaper writings, and daybooks - Reynolds gives us a full, rounded picture of the man, of his creative blending of disparate ideas and images, and his contradictory stances on race, class, and gender. Whitman's uniqueness is shown to spring primarily from his closeness to and absorption of his contemporary culture. We see how the social convulsions of Jacksonian America were mirrored in the tribulations of the poet's family, and how Whitman's private anguish, which can be felt in his early poems, was swept up in his growing alarm for a nation riven by sectional controversies, political corruption, and class division. Into the vacuum created by the social and political crises rushed Whitman's gargantuan poetic "I," gathering images from every facet of American life in a hopeful gesture of unity: the cocky defiance of the Bowery b'hoys, the rhythms and inflections of actors and orators, the bloodcurdling sensationalism of penny papers, the incandescent images of luminist painters, the zany visions of popular mystics. We see Whitman in a society rampant with illicit sexual activity, which it refused to acknowledge. We see him aligning his passion for young men with the psychological and behavioral customs of a century in which same-sex love was actually common.