By David S. Reynolds

Few authors are so like minded to historic research as Whitman, who's generally thought of America's maximum poet. This consultant combines modern cultural experiences and historic scholarship to light up Whitman's diversified contexts. The essays discover dimensions of Whitman's dynamic dating to working-class politics, race and slavery, sexual mores, the visible arts, and the assumption of democracy. The poet who emerges from this quantity isn't any "solitary singer," distanced from his tradition, yet what he himself referred to as "the age transfigured," absolutely enmeshed in his instances and addressing concerns which are nonetheless important at the present time.

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Frederick Blue, The Free Sailers: Third Party Politics, 1848-54 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973), 74-75. 22. Brooklyn Freeman, September 9,1848. 23. WEP, 36-37. A Brief Biography 41 24. WEP, 39-40. 25. , In Re Walt Whitman, 33. 26. TC, I:39-40. 27. See, especially, Mark Summers, The Plundering Generation: Corruption and the Crisis of the Union (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987). 28. WCP, 18. 29. LGC, 52. 30. DN, III:736. 31. S. Hill], North American Review 104 (Jan. 1867): 302; New York Examiner, January 9,1882.

NUPM, II:888-89. 73. TC, V:72. 74. TC, I:247. 75. PW,II:370. 76. Oliver Stevens to James R. Osgood, letter of March 1, 1882. Feinberg Collection, Library of Congress. 1 But Whitman was a poet embedded in his times, and his times—not unlike our own—were a period of intense disagreement about the significance and importance of racial difference. His career demonstrates his struggle with his times—and with himself—over the issue of race in the United States, and, because of that, his work offers important insight into the ongoing struggle in America to create a unified society that nonetheless maintains and celebrates its diversity.

The war years also brought romantic attachments. "69 The war also made same-sex bonding, which was unselfconscious and widespread anyway in a time before sexual "types" were defined, a common part of public behavior. Whitman overtly displayed affection to his soldier/comrades, hugging and kissing them with what he called a spirit of "exquisite courtesy—man to man— ... "72 To what extent his relationship with Doyle or other men accorded with modern homosexual practices is much debated. 73 Suffice it to say he had flings with women, but his main attraction was to young men.

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