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De Selincourt, Basil (1876–1966)

English critic and biographer, De Selincourt wrote on Blake and Meredith, as well as Whitman. His 1914 critical biography of Whitman was one of the first to focus mainly on Whitman's style and techniques, perceptively noting that his poetic unit was the line and that the line was determined not by meter but by the thought contained therein. De Selincourt also praised the musical qualities in Whitman's writing, saying that he used words as though they were notes. According to Gay Wilson Allen, he was also the first to assert Whitman's organizational deficiencies, especially in Leaves of Grass, which, according to De Selincourt, had so misleading an arrangement that it somewhat compromised the work's greatness. De Selincourt concluded his evaluation of Whitman by labeling him a spokesman not just for America, but for the ever-changing, life-enhancing spirit of mankind.


Allen, Gay Wilson. The New Walt Whitman Handbook. 1975. New York: New York UP, 1986.

De Selincourt, Basil. Walt Whitman: A Critical Study. 1914. New York: Russell and Russell, 1965.

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