Collage of Myself: Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass

By Matt Miller | Go to book overview

1
How Whitman Used His
Early Notebooks

As we look back on Leaves of Grass today, over a century and a half After the publication of the first edition, we are still at a loss to explain how Walt Whitman came to create such a groundbreaking book. As a result of scant and often misunderstood documentary evidence from the period leading up to the publication of the first Leaves, many scholars have regarded the book’s genesis as an unsolvable mystery, and those who have tried to explore the puzzle have often been hindered by misconceptions about Whitman’s life and his creative process. Readers exploring Whitman’s writing process have usually tried to understand what inspired him, and inspiration, I would contend, is something easily misconstrued. We tend to look at the idea from the outside, explaining creativity in terms of the kind of events that transform us as people, as important incidents in the stories of our lives. But artistic inspiration is often something more closely related to the experience of art itself. Rather than try to use an outside event to explain Whitman’s creative

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Collage of Myself: Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • 1 - How Whitman Used His Early Notebooks 1
  • 2 - Packing and Unpacking the First Leaves of Grass 48
  • 3 - Kosmos Poets and Spinal Ideas 104
  • 4 - Poems of Materials 161
  • 5 - Whitman after Collage / Collage after Whitman 215
  • Notes 251
  • Bibliography 275
  • Index 283
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