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About this Item

Title: More Humbug

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: April 4, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00401

Source: New York Aurora 4 April 1842: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This piece is unsigned. However, Whitman was the editor of the Aurora when this editorial was written, and Herbert Bergman identified him as its author in Walt Whitman, The Journalism. Volume I: 1834–1846 (New York: Peter Lang, 1998). The Whitman Archive editors agree that the style and content of the piece are consistent with other known Whitman writings of this period.

Contributors to digital file: Stefan Schöberlein, Amanda Kapper, Jason Stacy, and Kevin McMullen

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More Humbug.—

Our enterprising neighbors of the "Brother Jonathan"1 came out with their promised "Zanoni"2 on Saturday evening. It is very neatly got up upon three sheets of their Library Edition, bound in a cover. Cheap enough at two shillings, and no humbug. The World people3 announce that they will shortly publish the novel upon two sheets! but by what mathematical process they can get the contents of three mammoth sheets of the Jonathan into two of their smaller ones, would puzzle any philosopher of less acumen than the great Bamboozle himself.4 The tale must be necessarily cut down one third to accomplish such a feat. The extra Jonathan, therefore, contains the only complete copy.


1. Brother Jonathan was a newspaper published by Wilson & Co. in New York, for which Whitman once did freelance work. The name "Brother Jonathan" derives from the nation's patriotic call for a national image. "Brother Jonathan" stood for the "common" people and embodied conflicting views such as egalitarianism and American pride in achievement. The character eventually gave way to "Uncle Sam" (The United States Postal Guide and Official Advertiser 1, no. 1 [Washington D.C., 1850]: 163; Winifred Morgan, An American Icon: Brother Jonathan and American Identity [London: Associated Press, 1988], 34–36). [back]

2. Zanoni (1842) was a novel written by Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. Whitman, in a March 28 Aurora article entitled "The Great Bamboozle," accused the New World of plagiarizing the novel, "Zicci," "word for word, and line for line" from the New York Visiter and renaming it "Zanoni." However, "Zanoni" was an expanded version of "Zicci," and both were written by Lytton. See "The Great Bamboozle!–A Plot Discovered!" New York Aurora, March 28, 1842. [back]

3. This is referring to the New World, a weekly newspaper edited by Park Benjamin during this time. It was a paper of large size that "met the wants of the day by its cheap, wholesale republication of the English magazine literature" (Evert A. Duyckinck and George L. Duyckinck, Cyclopedia of American Literature; Embracing Personal and Critical Notes of Authors [New York: Charles Scribner, 1855], 2: 499). [back]

4. Whitman is likely referring to Park Benjamin, editor of the New World newspaper. It was Benjamin who Whitman accused of the act of plagiarism discussed in note 2. [back]


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