Academic journal article et Cetera

Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington

Academic journal article et Cetera

Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington

Article excerpt

Daniel Mark Epstein. Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington. New York: Ballantine, 2004.

The Greek historian Plutarch said the biography of the individual gains in significance when it is paired with another. This book uses that idea to detail the parallel lives of America's greatest statesman and America's greatest poet -beginning with the day Lincoln first read Leaves of Grass to the elegy Whitman composed after Lincoln's assassination in 1865.

The narrative begins in 1857 in Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois, law office. There we find the future president reading aloud from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

I celebrate myself,

And what 1 assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.

Epstein argues that verses such as these inspired Lincoln to write more dramatic oratory, such as his incendiary "House Divided" speech - quoting St. …

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