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Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.82" Width: 5.1" Height: 0.34"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 1961
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
Age  18
ISBN  0140421998  
EAN  9780140421996  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The edition of Whitman's poems as they were first published is accompanied by an in-depth introduction

Publishers Description
"I am large, I contain multitudes"
When Walt Whitman self-published his "Leaves of Grass" in July 1855, he altered the course of literary history. One of the greatest masterpieces of American literature, it redefined the rules of poetry while describing the soul of the American character. Throughout his great career, Whitman continuously revised, expanded, and republished "Leaves of Grass," but many critics believe that the book that matters most is the 1855 original. Penguin Classics proudly presents that text in its original and complete form, with an introductory essay by the writer and poet Malcolm Cowley.
"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you."
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

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More About Walt Whitman & Malcolm Cowley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Walt Whitman (1819-1892) revolutionized American poetry through the eleven editions of his magnum opus, Leaves of Grass, a celebration of the dynamism and diversity of a still-young America. Drum-Taps, first published in 1865, was written out of his experience as a nurse during the Civil War. It is a collection, he once wrote in a letter to a friend, "put together by fits and starts, on the field, in the hospitals as I worked with the soldier boys."
Lawrence Kramer is an author and composer who has often addressed Whitman's poetry in both capacities. He has set several of the poems from Drum-Taps to music and edited the essay collection Walt Whitman and Modern Music. Kramer is Distinguished Professor of English and Music at Fordham University.

Walt Whitman lived in Long Island, in the state of New York. Walt Whitman was born in 1819 and died in 1892.

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Whitman as Shaman  May 6, 2010
Steven B. Herrmann, PhD, MFT
Author of "Walt Whitman: Shamanism, Spiritual Democracy, and the World Soul."

Like the shamans of all archaic societies, Walt Whitman speaks a secret language of reptiles and birds and what comes out of him is purely electric. In 1855, he writes, "I SING the body electric." In this opening line, he describes the poem's aim; he says he is going to "charge them [us!] full with the charge of the soul." What he means is that there is an energy-charge in the soul, an electromagnetic vibration, that is not only psychic energy, but physical energy too, energy pulsating with Light in the living cells, glands, tissues, and atoms of our physical bodies. In section four of "Body Electric," moreover, he says: "I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea" (LG, 253). A few lines later, he writes about the female body: "A divine nimbus exhales from it from head to foot," and he follows with this beautiful metaphor: the "Bridegroom night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn" (LG, 253). This is one of the loveliest passages in American poetry. He has re-created language to reveal the union of opposites. Not only does he penetrate the psychoid barrier (the "hard coal and rocks and solid bed of the sea") but he sees the same field of psychophysical energy at play in the galaxy whirling around his head, as in his poem "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer." While looking up in the "mystical night air... in perfect silence at the stars" (LG, 410), he says in a sacred manner: "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars" (LG, 217). The idea that the cosmos is a universal sea of pulsating energy in which we are all swimming as in a sea of universal Delight is something Whitman--not to mention his shaman-brothers Herman Melville and William Blake--was very well aware of. "I CELEBRATE myself and sing myself," he says in "Song of Myself" "And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you" (LG, 188). Here, he is basically saying that the energy inside each atom of his body is charged with an electrical current that is active inside each of us, and that the atoms that make up his body are the atoms that make up our bodies as well--that there is no distinction, no separation; we are all one; one sea of universal intelligence. Thus, the sea in which Whitman swims is in essence the same water in which we swim, when we read him, and the one who can tap into this universal sea will benefit most from his spiritual bounty. In my book I have referred to Walt Whitman as a shaman and I suggest that he was a great medicine man too. Whitman is the first American poet to make a breakthrough for the field of depth-psychology to a concept of the soul where the soul is not seen as above the body or the body above the soul; each are viewed as one. This unity of the body and soul are captured most beautifully in his notion of spiritual democracy. This is perhaps the most important spiritual document in the history of humanity. Leaves of Grass is a celebration of cosmic consciousness and the Ecstasy that comes through the unification of the opposites. It spans the period from Whitman's initiation by the Fierce Wrestler in his 1847 Notebook to his final leave-taking poems in old age, "Passage to India," "Sands at Seventy," and "Good-Bye my Fancy."

Oxford 150th Anniversy Edition, Edited by David S. Reynolds  Mar 17, 2010
Well, it's in the form of the original in it's size, typeface, etc; and has a few reviews and letters in the back, but I must admit I'm disappointed. I was expecting this book to either be leather bound (it looks it in the this site picture) or designed like the original, cloth with engravings and what all. But instead you get a cheap glossy jacket with a blurry, poorly printed image of the original cover. You need to squint to even notice the "engravings". And the back flap has a big annoying picture of David Reynold's face, which is very not in the spirit of Walt Whitman's book. Other than that, I guess it's probably the closest we'll get to holding the original in our hands.
Absolutely Indispensable  Mar 3, 2010
Walt Whitman is one of the most famous, widely read, and influential poets - one of the few who can truly be said to have revolutionized poetry. Free verse's true originator, he broke free of formal shackles way back in 1855, nearly three quarters of a century before it became standard. He proved that great poetry could be written without traditional trappings - and it has never been the same. Many, including me, think it has gone too far in the other direction, but this is not Whitman's fault; his work is undeniably great, and we have in many was long since suffered weak imitations. There is simply no equaling him, much less replacing him; his work is as essential a part of American literature as Mark Twain's. He is indeed the Twain of verse, to be anachronistic - as monumental, all-important, and epoch-forming as Twain was in prose. Technicalities aside, this had almost as much to do with subject matter; Whitman famously self-proclaimed "America has a bard at last!" - and so it did. He freed American poetry from European heritage, making truly national art that both defined its era and instantly became timeless, speaking to the heart of all that America and Americans stood and stand for. The great poet of democracy, he preached the gospel of westward expansion, celebrated America's natural beauty, extolled its unique history and exciting new status, championed its values, chronicled the Civil War, dramatized the struggle over slavery and other national debates, and generally held forth about the country's unmatched cosmopolitanism in all areas from ethnicity to landscapes. He also somehow managed to write about sexuality with unprecedented openness and vigor, striking a blow against Victorian prudery that would eventually prove fatal and even laying the foundations for non-heterosexual identity. Accomplishing even one of these deeds would have been truly remarkable; Whitman did them all.

Yet he published only one poetry book - 1855's Leaves of Grass, which went through several updates through his 1892 death. He not only continuously added poems but extensively revised older ones, sometimes dropping some and moving others. For example, the original and final versions of his masterpiece Song of Myself are substantially different. Many key poems were there from the start, but some of the most famous and best - including the Civil War and associated Abraham Lincoln ones - came later. None of the many poems added late in life were nearly on par with prior masterpieces, but nearly all were worthwhile. Whitman wanted the 1892 edition to supersede the rest, and editors have nearly always complied; it is by far the most popular and widely available and the one that nearly all readers will want.

And what a version it is! - hundreds of poems plus several prose prefaces and a prose afterword over nearly five hundred pages. To have so much greatness in one book - especially from one person - is near-unbelievable; the depth of Whitman's achievement simply staggers. Nearly all the poems are worthy, and many are great; quite a few are pure masterpieces. Included are some of the all-time great poems like "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," "By Blue Ontario's Shore," and "Passage to India," plus many superb short poems. Anyone even remotely interested in poetry must be familiar with these; there have always been some for whom Whitman just does not click, but even they must be prepared to deal with him, so great is his influence.

Great as the 1892 Edition is, it is possible for both hard-cores and casuals to complain. Many of the latter will say that it is simply too imposing - too many poems, too many pages. I certainly would not advise anyone who has read very little or no Whitman to jump right in; it is definitely a lot to take in at once, and the poems are by no means of equal quality or importance. One would be far better off reading a selected edition first, but everyone should come here eventually; indeed, nearly all will want to after the first tantalizing taste. Conversely, diehards have always complained about various aspects, from poems it leaves out to various changes made to included ones. The most important omission in my view is Whitman's original prose introduction, which served as his poetic manifesto. The dedicated will of course want to seek out this and every version of every poem, but their complaints are of interest to very few. The 1892 Edition will satisfy nearly everyone.

This is not the most deluxe version; one can find various critical editions with extensive commentary, notes, etc. as well as variorum versions. However, this is one of the most widely available and is very affordable. Taking this into account, it has fairly generous supplemental material: a good basic Introduction, a short glossary and bibliography, and an index of titles and first lines with original and final publication dates. This is the ideal Leaves of Grass for most, but everyone should have it in some form. It is one of very few books truly essential for all. Even those who do not like poetry may well like Whitman, and anyone even remotely interested in American literature, history, or culture must be acquainted Leaves, so thoroughly has it penetrated popular culture and entered the American consciousness. Bookshelves missing this might almost as well be empty.
Pioneers, Oh Pioneers  Feb 5, 2010
If you've been watching television over the past few months, then you've likely seen the Levi's commercial that features quotes from Walt Whitman's poetry (Pioneers - oh, pioneers!") "Leaves of Grass" is one of the greatest books of poetry ever written by an American. I've rated this only three stars, because the edition I'm writing about is a Kindle Edition, which doesn't include access to an efficient table of contents. If you want to navigate through the poems, you will have to create bookmarks yourself. Otherwise, the content is nothing short of fantastic. Whitman was a unique voice in American letters, and "Leaves of Grass" is his masterwork.
Kindle edition - weak production values  Dec 28, 2009
I recently got a Kindle, so I started looking for books to put in to it. Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" is an old favorite of mine, so I looked for Kindle editions. There were 31 matches to my search, though not all of them are the actual book of poems. My complaints about this offering start with the absence of a table of contents. Whitman didn't title the poems in the original 1855 edition, though he did in subsequent editions, but a table of contents could show the first line of each poem. Beyond the lack of TOC, the edition is not identified nor is the "publisher," which makes it difficult, though not impossible, to associate a rating with a specific offering.

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