Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick Review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My favorite book on Whitman, bar none. I've read, after Kaplan's, probably ten books -- full biographies to critical considerations of the work and at least one long book, and very good book on almost this same subject, and nothing else compares for the pure pleasure of reading and sympathy. By taking Whitman's experience in the medical tents in Washington DC and paying special attention to what Whitman actually wrote and actually did, Morris shapes a truly fascinating portrait of an incredibly sensitive man -- not yet the venerated "good, old poet" of memory -- in conflict with himself and his times; profoundly moved by the suffering around him, but also inspired as a writer and philosopher, and liberated, in a strange and unexpected way, by his nearness to that same suffering, and nobility, masculine beauty, and yes, physical affection.

This book has and will continue to inform my reading of the poems hereafter, not just Drum Taps, but all the poems. A beautiful work.

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