Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Holloway, Emory (1885–1977)
Author:
Garvey, T. Gregory
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Rufus Emory Holloway established himself as a Whitman scholar in 1921 when he published The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman. His work on Whitman continued with the publication of Whitman: An Interpretation in Narrative in 1926, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. This book established the importance of Whitman's journalism and prose to the emergence of Leaves of Grass. Holloway's biography was also stylistically innovative. It is characterized by a disjointed chronological structure, extended digressions into cultural history, and psychological analysis. Admitting that he was influenced by modernist narrative techniques, Holloway explained his style by asserting that "I have abbreviated the narrative by picking it up only where it has character, and where the abundance of records makes it possible, without invention, to tell an imaginative story" (Interpretation xi).

The strength of his Whitman scholarship earned Holloway a position on the faculty of Queens College in New York City but he was also repeatedly compelled to justify his understanding of Whitman's homosexuality. In Free and Lonesome Heart (1960) Holloway argues that Whitman was bisexual and concludes that Whitman strove to imagine an androgynous position from which to live and write. Subsequent Whitman biographers such as Gay Wilson Allen, Justin Kaplan, and David S. Reynolds largely bypass Holloway's work, but by emphasizing the importance of Whitman's early career in journalism, they have also incorporated Holloway's research into the bedrock of Whitman scholarship.

Bibliography

Holloway, Emory. Whitman: An Interpretation in Narrative. New York: Knopf, 1926.

———. Free and Lonesome Heart: The Secret of Walt Whitman. New York: Vantage, 1960.

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Knopf, 1995.


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