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About this Item

Title: Leaves of Grass

Creator: unknown [unsigned in original]

Date: August 1, 1882

Publication information: The American Bookseller 1 August 1882: 384.

Source: The electronic text for this file was prepared by Whitman Archive staff, who transcribed the text from a representation of the original (e.g., digital scan or other electronic reproduction, microfilm copy).

Whitman Archive ID: anc.02075

Contributors to digital file: Natalie O'Neal, Elizabeth Lorang, Nicole Gray, and Matt Cohen


Leaves of Grass.

Further publication of Walt Whitman's collected poems having been interdicted in Boston, the plates were transferred to Messrs. Rees Welsh & Co., of Philadelphia, whose advance orders exceeded their first edition, a copy of which is before us. This volume was prepared by J. R. Osgood & Co., with the personal supervision of the "good, gray poet," and is the only complete and satisfactory edition of his verse. The question of Whitman's place in literature is too involved and difficult for discussion here; it has been argued by able writers in prominent journals, but with no great decisiveness, and it may be doubted whether critics and critical readers will ever be less at variance in their estimates than now. Whitman has passages and stray poems of such obvious strength and beauty as to compel admiration, but their amount is small compared with the mass of matter written in barbaric scorn of all accepted forms, conventionalities, and proprieties. It is difficult to defend many things in Leaves of Grass, even on the author's ground of their necessity to the completion of his "artistic purpose," because to the average mind they are purposeless and brutal.

The portrait given in this volume is not very satisfactory, though doubtless a good copy of the Walt Whitman of years ago. It should at least have been accompanied by one of the present date, like that which appeared last year in Scribner's Monthly, for instance—a head of venerable dignity, in striking contrast to the longshoreman-like figure presented here.


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