Parodies on Walt Whitman

Parodies on Walt Whitman

Parodies on Walt Whitman

Parodies on Walt Whitman

Excerpt

I have never forgotten sitting at lunch one day beside a book collector who told me of his growing collection of Whitman "items." We began to talk about Walt, and I was increasingly astonished. For though my genial neighbor had picked up from the dealers a glib familiarity with the dates and points of the various editions --a matter which is to me of only secondary interest--it was embarrassingly evident that he was almost wholly ignorant of the writings themselves. When he remarked that he was wondering whether there was not some sort of book about Whitman that had not yet been written and which he himself might attempt, I could not resist saying that if he proposed to write about Whitman it would do no harm to begin by reading him. He was not at all distressed by my gaucherie. "Oh," he said--"I don't mean necessarily a book of criticism. All I want to do is to connect my name with Walt's."

Perhaps it was in the same diabolic spirit that I assented to the publisher's suggestion that I should contribute a little preface to a volume of Whitman parodies. I assented before seeing the manuscript, and my mind rather happily revolved about the interesting idea. For no great poet ever lent himself more irresistibly to parody than Walt; and it would be agreeable (I meditated) to study a full collection of Whitman facsimiles. High class parody (it is a fairly trite remark) is often a valuable form of criticism: it tends to isolate mere eccentricity and mannerism from the genuine seed. In somewhat the same way, it is said that no man knows what he really looks like until he has seen a burlesque of himself done by a clever cartoonist. Fortunately, few of us become important enough . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.