Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 4, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 704 pages
Winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Award and
Finalist for the National for the Book Critics Circle Award

In his poetry Walt Whitman set out to encompass all of America and in so doing heal its deepening divisions. This magisterial biography demonstrates the epic scale of his achievement, as well as the dreams and anxieties that impelled it, for it places the poet securely within the political and cultural context of his age.

Combing through the full range of Whitman's writing, David Reynolds shows how Whitman gathered inspiration from every stratum of nineteenth-century American life: the convulsions of slavery and depression; the raffish dandyism of the Bowery "b'hoys"; the exuberant rhetoric of actors, orators, and divines. We see how Whitman reconciled his own sexuality with contemporary social mores and how his energetic courtship of the public presaged the vogues of advertising and celebrity. Brilliantly researched, captivatingly told, Walt Whitman's America is a triumphant work of scholarship that breathes new life into the biographical genre.

What people are saying - Write a review

WALT WHITMAN'S AMERICA: A Cultural Biography

User Review  - Kirkus

This absorbing portrait of America's greatest poetic personality contains multitudes, all right. It opens onto a vast panorama of the United States in the 19th century, redefining the horizons of ... Read full review

Walt Whitman's America: a cultural biography

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Whitman, the Good Gray Poet, was born into a time when slavery and the new market economy had just begun to transform the nation. Reynolds (Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2011)

David S. Reynolds is Distinguished Professor of American Literature and American Studies at Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has previously taught at Rutgers University, New York University, Barnard College, and Northwestern University. He is the author of the monumental Beneath the American Renaissance: The Subversive Imagination in the Age of Emerson and Melville, winner of the Christian Gauss award.  His other publications include Faith in Fiction: The Emergence of Religious Literature in America;George Lippard; and George Lippard, Prophet of Protest: Writintgs of an American Radical, 1822-1854 (edited anthology). He is the editor of George Lippard's novel The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk Hall and the author of numerous articles and reviews in the field of American literature and culture, including "Of Me I Sing: Whitman in His Time" (The New York Times Book Review).

Bibliographic information