Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Joseph B. Gilder to Walt Whitman, 13 June 1890

Date: June 13, 1890

Whitman Archive ID: loc.02216

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Kirby Little, Ian Faith, Blake Bronson-Bartlett, and Stephanie Blalock

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The Critic
52 & 54 Lafayette Place
New York
Bordentown, N. J.
13 June 1890

Dear W. Whitman:

Nearly a month ago I sent you a request to vote1 (as a member of The Critic's2 Academy of Forty Immortals) for nine successors to the members deceased since our leaders elected the Forty in 1884. I sent a list of about 65 unsuccessful candidates (or rather nominees) who were voted for at that time, & asked you to pick out nine of them or to name nine others if you preferred. Nearly all the "Academicians" have sent in their votes; but I don't want to announce the result of the thing till I hear from you. If you have lost the printed slip, I can send you another. We shall not tell how any individual voted, but only how they all voted—the net result. I hope you'll not disappoint us.3

Sincerely yours,
J. B. Gilder

Joseph Benson Gilder (1858–1936) was, with his sister Jeannette Leonard Gilder (1849–1916), co-editor of The Critic, a literary magazine.


1. This letter has not been located. [back]

2. The Critic was a literary magazine published in New York from 1881 until 1906. Four of Whitman's poems were published in the magazine: "The Dead Tenor" (1884), "Yonnondio" (1887), "To the Year 1889" (1889), and "The Pallid Wreath" (1891). [back]

3. The Critic published its revised list of the "Forty Immortals" with its nine new members, in the July 19, 1890, issue (pp. 33–34). Whitman was on the original list published in 1884, with the twentieth highest number of votes, just below William Dwight Whitney and just above Asa Gray (Oliver Wendell Holmes came in first, closely followed by James Russell Lowell and John Greenleaf Whittier). The article prints the new "Forty Immortals" list, with the nine deceased members replaced by newly appointed authors and concludes by noting that only three of the immortals failed to vote: George Bancroft (because he "was in too feeble a condition"), Henry James (for "unaccounted" reasons), and Whitman ( "who is a disbeliever in 'close corporations')." [back]


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