Worshipping Walt

Book Digest Considering the novelty and power of Walt Whitman’s liberating appeal to a broad swath of society, it is not surprising that he awakened and engendered strong devotion from a plethora of followers and devotees. This book traces the activities of some of his most avid associates: Anne Gilchrist, John Addington Symonds, Horace Traubel, R.M. Bucke, John Burroughs, Edward Carpenter—even Oscar Wilde. Additionally, Michael Robertson skillfully explains how a small group of true believers elevated Whitman from being “America’s greatest” poet to prophet. (In case you need to be reminded of the vivacity of Whitman’s poetry, a new audio recording features Ed Begley, Sr., reciting selections from Leaves of Grass complete with whoops, hollers, and beating drums.)
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