Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Arnold, George B. (1803–1889)
Author:
Bawcom, Amy M.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

As Sherry Ceniza has revealed, Whitman's biographers (Allen, Kaplan, Reynolds, and others) have often mistakenly referred to George B. Arnold as John Arnold; the latter was actually a son of the former. In any event, George B. Arnold was a retired Unitarian minister and a lodger for a number of years in the Brooklyn home of Mrs. Abby Price, one of Whitman's best friends. Helen Price, Abby's daughter, described Arnold as "a Swedenborgian, not formally belonging to the church of that name, but accepting in the main the doctrines of the Swedish seer as revealed in his works" (qtd. in Bucke 27). When Whitman visited the Price household, he often engaged Arnold in intense but friendly arguments, discussing such matters as politics, democracy, spiritualism, Harmonialism, and, most often, Swedenborgianism. According to Justin Kaplan, Arnold inspired Whitman to attend Swedenborgian meetings and to study the Swedish mystic's life and writings. Arnold may also have influenced Whitman to write "Who Was Swedenborg?"—an article published on 15 May 1858 in the Brooklyn Daily Times.

Bibliography

Bucke, Richard Maurice. Walt Whitman. Philadelphia: McKay, 1883.

Ceniza, Sherry. "Walt Whitman and Abby Price." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 7 (1989): 49–67.

Kaplan, Justin. Walt Whitman: A Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980.


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