Whitmans i sing the body electric

The second of nine children, [4] he was immediately nicknamed "Walt" to distinguish him from his father.

Whitmans i sing the body electric

Everyone knows Whitman as a poet and the author of one of the most studied books of American poetry, Leaves of Grass.

What is less well known is that Whitman was trained as a printer and throughout his life spent time in printing shops and binderies, often setting type himself and always intimately involved in the design and production of his books.

Whitman did not just write his book, he made his book, and he made it Whitmans i sing the body electric and over again, each time producing a different material object that spoke to its readers in different ways. No nineteenth-century American author was more involved in the range of actual activities of bookmaking than Whitman.

He became a journeyman printer in Manhattan in the mids while still a teenager. In the early s, while writing Leaves of Grass, he ran a job-printing office and became close friends with Brooklyn printers, including some young brothers who had emigrated from Scotland and now ran a small job printing shop on Fulton Street, where Whitman would print the first edition of his book.

The first edition of Leaves of Grass was self-published, and Whitman designed the binding, chose the typeface, designed the pages, worked with an engraver on the frontispiece, and even set some of the type himself. Throughout his life, Whitman retained an intimate association with the publishers of his books, worrying over the tiniest physical details.

Whitmans i sing the body electric

When he would write a poem, he often took the manuscript to typesetter-friends to have the draft set in type or sometimes do the typesetting himselfthen would make his revisions on the proof sheets: So he designed and helped set type for the first edition—sitting in the printing shop while the book was being printed, reading proof, and making changes literally as the book was in press—and then designed his second edition ; when in he got a contract from a Boston publisher for the third edition of Leaves, he immediately left for Boston to oversee the production, sitting for weeks with the typesetters, carefully selecting the wildly divergent typefaces, designing the enigmatic decorations, and choosing the binding.

Whitman actually considered himself a bookmaker more than an author. Leaves of Grass ultimately went through six entirely different editions, and each edition had multiple issues, often with different bindings, different paper size, different cover designs, and different configurations of contents.

Whitman was always experimenting with the physical appearance of his book, and his changes reflect his evolving notions of what role his writing would play in the emerging American democracy.

Major historical events like the Civil War and Reconstruction had a visible effect on the physical makeup of his books.

When he published his Civil War poems in a separate book called Drum-Taps, for example, he constructed that book during a time of paper shortage, and the very composition of the pages reflects his desire to use every inch of space, leading to an arrangement of poems that has often been read thematically but may in fact have been coerced spatially, a book of war poems rationed so as to conserve paper and space.

Selected Criticism

After the war, as Whitman tried to figure out how to absorb his Civil War poems into Leaves of Grass, he began by constructing an edition in in which he literally sewed the pages of the unbound copies of Drum-Taps into the back of the newly printed Leaves. This was the beginning of a long process of post-war reconstruction of Leaves that mirrors the Reconstruction of the nation that was occurring at the same time.

Some of the copies of the edition contain Drum-Taps while others do not; the bindings change, too, and this fluidity reflects his indecision over whether Leaves of Grass, which originally set out to celebrate the unity of the United States, could properly contain poems chronicling the divisive war between the states.

This is just one small example of the hundreds of changes Whitman made to his books as he designed and re-designed them, altered the arrangement and number of poems, shifted titles and typefaces, and kept Leaves of Grass a shifting series of quite different texts—each one responding to a particular biographical and cultural moment—instead of a single book.

This evolution of one of the most important texts in American literature has, remarkably, never been examined in detail, in part because of the difficulty of gathering all the variations of the book in one place.

The intimate connection between Whitman and printing is on full display here, from Whitman making books to the books that continue to make Whitman and his reputation.

The Books Whitman Made Inonly five years before Leaves of Grass appeared, Whitman was known only as a printer, journalist, and writer of short stories and sketches.

Brenton, owner of the Long Island Democrat, a newspaper on which Whitman had worked, put together a book in that collected what he called "sketches, essays, and poems by practical printers. Inonly five years before publishing Leaves of Grass, a book that would forever change American literature, Whitman was still very much seen as just a "practical printer.

Late in his life, Whitman was visited by two college students from Trenton, New Jersey, who asked him for advice for young writers. The poet answered, "Whack away at everything pertaining to literary life—mechanical part as well as the rest. He knew that writing anything eventually involved working at the case.

No publisher was interested in producing what seemed an odd and inelegant group of twelve untitled poems. So Whitman did it himself: He talked a friend, Andrew Rome, who was a job printer with a tiny shop on Fulton and Cranberry Streets in Brooklyn, into printing the book. Andrew Rome had just lost his brother and business partner, James, who died of consumption about half a year before Andrew began working on Leaves.

Whitmans i sing the body electric

Rome" only inwhen Tom was in his mid-twenties, did "A. Andrew and Tom would publish city and county reports, Unitarian sermons, one novel, and one other book of poems by one John Lockwood. Almost all their books were small paperback pamphlets, flimsy publications, most of which have not survived.Choosing Sides in Walt Whitman's Song of Myself - “Song of Myself” is an attempt by Walt Whitman to become the “American poet” as described by Ralph Waldo Emerson; he attempts to be “[T]he sayer, the namer, and [representative] of beauty” (Emerson ).

Whitman believed that American poetry would have to be essentially different from any poetry written previously—it would have to look different, sound different, and deal with different subject matter if it was to guide the development of a radical new American democracy. “I sing the body electric, The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them, They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them, And discorrupt them, and charge them full with.

Walter "Walt" Whitman (/ ˈ hw ɪ t m ə n /; May 31, – March 26, ) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist.A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his tranceformingnlp.comn is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.

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His work was very controversial in its time. Walt Whitman as a Maker of Books. Walt Whitman is the only major American poet of the nineteenth century to have an intimate association with the art of bookmaking.

Walter "Walt" Whitman (/ ˈ hw ɪ t m ə n /; May 31, – March 26, ) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist.A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his tranceformingnlp.comn is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.

His work was very controversial in its time.

Walt Whitman - Wikipedia