Walt Whitman Handbook

Walt Whitman Handbook

Walt Whitman Handbook

Walt Whitman Handbook

Excerpt

The Crofts series of excellent Handbooks for the major British poets has long been useful to students and teachers of English literature, but for various reasons similar guides have not been published for American writers. Yet-- without in any way attempting to compare the importance of American authors with such giants as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, or Spenser--I think anyone acquainted with the vast body of scholarship and critical interpretation already accumulated around such American poets as Walt Whitman will agree that "Handbook" guides are almost as seriously needed for the American as for the major English poets.

But though the fecundity of scholarship in the field of American Literature is today comparable to the similar activities in other literary fields, the problems which have confronted me in preparing this Walt Whitman Handbook have been in many ways unique to the subject. For one thing, Whitman biography, despite the scores of published books, continues in a state of flux. Even some of the basic facts are still a matter of dispute. And when we come to the interpretation of Whitman's poetry, the diversity of opinion and the controversies still far from dead are little short of bewildering.

As I worked on this Handbook, therefore, it gradually and necessarily became more ambitious. My task has been not only to summarize the vast scholarship in the field but . . .

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