Book Shelf THE STACKS

Walt

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
On Today’s Menu:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
** Share some old-fashion apple pie
for an American poet’s birthday.
** Linger to ponder the gap between a writer’s cultural influence and a writer’s personal faults.
** Savor a last ½ cup considering both how to and how
not to read more classic books.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

STT-66

First Sip:

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
for every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.

– Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, age 35, from the frontispiece to Leaves of Grass
“I cock my hat as I please indoors or out”
steel engraving by Samuel Hollyer
from a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison

.


Slice of Cake:

It’s surprising how many places a 19th century poet can show up!

The poetry of Walt Whitman has inspired:
* A 1926 poem by Langston Hughes (I, too, sing America.)2
* A 1980 musical (Fame)3
* A 2014 play by Lauren Gunderson (I And You)4
* A 1989 Robin Williams movie (Dead Poets Soceity)5
* And a close comparison with a 13th century Persian
Coleman Barks (whose American-English translations of Rumi’s poetry run to some 30 books)
said that Whitman shared with Rumi “extensive inner dialogues and ecstatic visions.” 6

Walt Whitman was born on Long Island in New York State.
At age 16, he moved to New York City to find work in newspapers.
He started as a typesetter.
Within a few years, he’d founded his own paper, The Long Islander,
with himself as publisher, editor, printing press operator, and delivery man.
Less than a year in, he sold the paper.7

But he continued working for various newspapers, often as their music critic.
He found himself falling in love with opera music.
He later said that his free verse poetry was modeled on Italian opera.15

Whitman began writing Leaves of Grass around 1850.
He had to publish it himself, with a first printing of less than 800 copies.7

Side note:
The book was supposedly anonymous—
No author’s name was on the cover.
And yet, one of the poems begins ‘Walt Whitman, an American..’
So that mystery was pretty much a non-starter!

The book sold very well.
Some critics condemned it as obscene. But others praised it—
especially Ralph Waldo Emerson, who recommended it widely to his friends,
calling it an “extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom.” 8

Over the next 36 years,
Whitman kept revising
and re-writing Leaves of Grass
until it grew from a small book of 12 poems into a giant book of 400 poems.

Happy 202nd Birthday
** Walt Whitman **

– born May 31, 1819
on Long Island, New York

.


Linger Awhile:

I’ve been thinking this week about beliefs expressed in words
and beliefs expressed in actions. And the difference between the two.

So, according to Leaves of Grass, what
did Walt Whitman believe in?


Walt Whitman believed in
being one with all of Nature.

32
I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained,
I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied,
not one is demented with the mania of owning things…
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.

31
I believe a leaf of grass is no less
than the journey work of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect,
and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery.

side note:
a
pismire is an ant.


Walt Whitman believed in
being one with all of Humanity
.

21
In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less,
And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them.

17
These are thoughts of all men in all ages and lands,
they are not original with me,


If they are not yours as much as mine
they are nothing or next to nothing.
If they do not enclose everything they are next to nothing,
If they are not the riddle
and the untying of the riddle they are nothing.


Walt Whitman believed in
America and the people of America.

Side note:
Whitman loved to prove his love of America with long, very long lists.
Lists that essentially say: “This place is good; that place is good;

that person who does that is good; this person who does this is good…”
and on and on for several pages!
Below is one of my favorites of these lists. Yes, I edited it, like, a lot,
but still it’s…really long. (Feel free to skim.)
But first, a quote from his preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)
calling America itself a poem.

The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth
have probably the fullest poetical nature.

The United States themselves
are essentially the greatest poem.

33
…Approaching Manhattan up by the long-stretching island,
Under Niagara, the cataract falling like a veil over my countenance,
Upon the race-course, or enjoying picnics or jigs
or a good game of base-ball,

At apple-peelings wanting kisses for all the red fruit I find,
At musters, beach-parties, friendly bees, huskings, house-raisings;
Where the mocking-bird
sounds his delicious gurgles, cackles, screams, weeps,


Where sun-down shadows lengthen over the limitless and lonesome prairie,
Where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread
of the square miles far and near,
Where the humming-bird shimmers,
where the neck of the long-lived swan is curving and winding,
Where the laughing-gull scoots by the shore,
where she laughs her near-human laugh,
Where bee-hives range on a gray bench in the garden
half hid by the high weeds,
Where band-neck’d partridges roost in a ring on the ground
with their heads out,
Where burial coaches enter the arch’d gates of a cemetery,
Where winter wolves bark amid wastes of snow and icicled trees,
Where the yellow-crown’d heron comes
to the edge of the marsh at night and feeds upon small crabs,
Through the salt-lick or orange glade, or under conical firs,
Through the gymnasium, through the curtain’d saloon,
through the office or public hall;


Storming, enjoying, planning, loving, cautioning,
Backing and filling, appearing and disappearing,
I tread day and night such roads.

America isolated yet embodying all, what is it finally except myself?
These States, what are they except myself?

– from ‘By Blue Ontario’s Shore’


Walt Whitman believed
in himself.

24
I dote on myself, there is that lot of me, and all so luscious,
Each moment and whatever happens thrills me with joy.

44
It is time to explain myself—let us stand up.

What is known I strip away,
I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.

I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.


All forces have been steadily employ’d to complete and delight me,
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.

15
I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,
Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,
Maternal as well as
paternal, a child as well as a man,

Stuffed with the stuff that is coarse,
and stuffed with the stuff that is fine.

21
I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul.

22
I am the poet of commonsense and of demonstrable and of immortality;
And am not the poet of goodness only.
I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also.

…Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Walt Whitman believed that he
speaks for all who suffer injustice.

2
Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos,
Disorderly fleshy and sensual, eating drinking and breeding,
No sentimentalist, no stander above men and women or apart from them,
no more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors
themselves from their jambs!

Whoever degrades another degrades me,
and whatever is done or said returns at last to me,
And whatever I do or say I also return.


I speak the password primeval, I give the sign of democracy;
By God! I will accept nothing which
all cannot have their counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me many long dumb voices,
Voices of the interminable generations of prisoners and slaves,
Voices of the diseased and despairing and of thieves…


Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veiled and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigured.


So…
Did Walt Whitman live up to the ideals of his words?
No. He did not.9

But with energy and ecstasy, his writing strives towards those ideals.
His poetry is wild, unfiltered—and all over the map.
And it sounds like freedom.
His poetry can lift the heart and quicken the pulse.

And that is why I read Walt Whitman.
Because he makes me see beauty in nature and beauty in people—
and he gives me hope for a truer democracy
in this ‘poem of a country’ called America.

.


“Half Cup More”

You read something which you
thought only happened to you, and
you discover that it happened
a hundred years ago to Fyodor Dostoyevsky.


This is a very great liberation for the

suffering, struggling person who always
thinks that he is alone.

That is why art is important.

– James Baldwin
in an interview with Studs Terkel (1961)

Reading classic books is something I came to somewhat late—
I think I was in my early 30s.

Side note:
I know that many people were
assigned classics to read in school.
For better or worse, I did not go

to those kind of schools.

If you’ve been thinking
you’d like to read more classics,
here are 5 ideas to ease you in & get you going.

Acknowledgments:
My sources and inspiration for this section
are 5 young women who love books.
Links to their excellent videos are in footnotes #10-#15.


First:
A definition.


My definition of a classic is fairly arbitrary—
but then
any definition of a classic is fairly arbitrary.

– Claudia of Spinsters Library10

What is a classic book?

My personal definition of a classic
is a book that’s withstood some test of some amount of time.
In other words, it was written for readers in another time,
yet has found some resonance, meaning, or beauty by readers here in our own.


Second:
Why or why not.

Reading classic literature is pointless
if you don’t have an inner reason

why you personally want to read it…
I’m a big believer that ultimately
people should enjoy what they read.

– Ellie Dashwood11

Some good reasons to read a classic book:

* You’re interested in a certain time period and you’d like to read something
that isn’t just about that era, but was truly written during that era.

* You love a certain genre,
and you’re curious how that genre got started & how it’s evolved over time.

* You (like me) love seeing evidence that people are people
and that the ideas we struggle with now have been struggled with for a long time.

I have done with expecting
any course of steady reading from Emma.
She will never submit to anything requiring…
a subjection of the fancy.

– Mr Knighly in Emma
by
Jane Austen (1815)

A few not so good reasons to read a classic book:

* Because it will make you “well-read.”
(Well, no. Reading a lot of books—any kind of books—means you’re well-read.)10

* Because it seems like something you “should do.”
(Really, unless you’re getting a grade for it, you can be like Emma and not “subject your fancy”)

* Because it looks “thoughtful” or “cultured.”
(Maybe. But so does sipping a dainty cup of tea—and that’ll be a lot less effort.)


Third:
Where to start.

‘Classic’ isn’t really a genre. There’s lots of
different types of books that fall under ‘classic.’
– Claudia of Spinsters Library10

Pick a classic in your favorite genre.
There are classic books of mystery, fantasy, horror, adventure, romance, crime fiction, science fiction, humor, self-help—almost everything really. One fun way to find a great book is to find out what your current favorite author’s favorite books are. You’ll almost surely find a classic or two on their list. (And they’ve probably talked about how their writing is directly or indirectly influenced by at least one classic.)

Side note:
Did you know that Suzanne Collins got Katniss Everdeen’s
last name out of her favorite Thomas Hardy novel?
And that Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris, was named from
a character in a Jane Austen novel?

Pick a short novel, a novella, or even a short story.13
Let’s say you’ve been wanting to try some Russian literature. There are short stories by Anton Chekov that are amazing—and they’re a much easier place to start than, say, War and Peace. Or, if you love mysteries, some of the Sherlock Holmes stories are just plain better (as well as shorter) than the Sherlock Holmes novels.

Choose a novel with a 1st person narration.
This is a really good idea that I got from Katie Lumsden of Books and Things.12
She points out that some classics have so many characters that trying to follow all of them can get confusing. But a 1st person narrative style means sticking to one main character and one point of view and that makes following the storyline easier. For example, if you want to read some Charles Dickens, then David Copperfield is probably a better place to start than Pickwick Papers.12

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life,
or whether that station will be held by anybody else,
these pages must show.

– from David Copperfield
by
Charles Dickens (1849)
(opening line)

Read a classic children’s book.
This is a good way to get familiar with the pacing and sentence structure typical of classic novels.
And the stories are usually short and often familiar. I recently read Heidi for the first time as an adult—and I very much enjoyed it. Plus I still love re-reading the books that were my favorites as a kid (like Little Women and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).

Read a classic from another country.
I learned from Seji’s video13 that both Penguin Books and Oxford University Press have anthologies of short stories from dozens of countries—with a mix of contemporary and classic stories.

A few of the many titles:
The Penguin Book of International Short Stories
The Oxford Book of Travel Stories
Oxford Anthology of Brazilian Short Stories
Oxford Anthology of Scottish Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories
The Penguin Book of Australian Short Stories

A lot of [classic] books written by old white men
are really good and have lasted for a reason.
But we also we can’t ignore the historical context that has
caused certain authors
to be so widely read

For me as a person growing up in an African country
which only got independence from the British in the 1980s,
names like Dickens, Austen and Brontë were way more familiar to me
than African authors, especially those not from my own country


I don’t think anyone needs to throw out the traditional classics
but its also good to widen our focus.

– Tariro Moyo
commenting on the video
A Guide to Reading Classics (Beginner Friendly)
by
Seji at The Artisan Geek13


Fourth:
How to get going.

Start in the shallow end of the pool.
Once you’ve assembled your short list of classics to try, begin with the most recent one—and then work your way back in time. A classic novel from 1960 will feel more familiar than one from 1860. And if you follow up a book from the 1920s with one from the 1890s it’ll ease you in to those 19th century writing styles.12

Skip the preface and intro.
Start right at Chapter One. Especially don’t begin by reading an introduction written by someone other than the author. Some of these commentators can be real cranky. Why prejudice your experience of a book with someone else’s opinions? You can always go back and read the intro after you’ve finished the book. (If you liked the book enough to want to read more, that is!)

Read slowly and steadily.
You’re not going to get every word or be familiar with every reference, and that’s okay!
Let a first read be a first read. Let the story flow and the language wash over you. If your edition is annotated, resist the urge to keep flipping to the notes. Save them for a later re-read. (On your first time through, the endnotes can be very distracting.)12

On the other hand, if I’m having trouble getting through a book, it can be really helpful to look online for a plot summary. I also like to look up character lists because they help me keep the names straight.

I hope you won’t take this freedom on my part amiss;
it’s only a way I have of appealing to the gentle reader.
Lord! haven’t I seen you with the greatest authors in your hands,
and don’t I know how ready your attention is to wander

– from The Moonstone
by
Wilkie Collins (1868)

Indulge in a good movie or tv series adaptation.
Another thing that helps—especially if you’re getting bogged down—is to watch an adaptation to get you familiar with the characters and storyline. (It was a movie with Vanessa Redgrave that helped me finally finish reading Mrs Dalloway.)

Don’t try to be objective. (Because there’s really no such thing.)
This is wonderful advice I heard from Leonie at TheBookLeo. She talked about learning to be aware of our own subjectivity and how to actively consider our own reactions, thoughts, likes, and dislikes about the books we read. (It’s a very good video.)14


Fifth:
Check your edition.

Leaves of Grass is at last complete—
after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life,
fair weather & foul, all parts of the land,
and peace & war, young & old.

– Walt Whitman16

Not all editions are equal.
This one’s a bit of an ‘advanced skills’ kind of idea, but I mention it because it’s really confused me a couple times lately. Here’s what I’ve learned: There are sometimes different versions of the same title. Example A: Authors make changes. You can buy Leaves of Grass (1855) and get 83 pages. Or you can buy Leaves of Grass (1891) and get 683 pages. Example J: Editors make changes. A Moveable Feast was first published in 1964 (after Ernest Hemingway had died) edited by his 4th wife. A Moveable Feast was published again in 2009, this time edited by his grandson who restored a lot of Hemingway’s original manuscript—especially the bits where Hemingway wrote very fondly (perhaps too fondly?) about his 1st wife. Example Q: Translations vary. If the original is in a different language, there can be several translations available in your language. (I just found out that Don Quixote has 25 English translations!)17 Easiest solution: You can research yourself whether there are different editions of your book (and which one is the ‘best’) or you can ask your friendly local bookshop owner or branch librarian for advice.


Hope you found some of this helpful!
You can read more about some of my favorite classic books
by scrolling down to footnote #18 .
And I’d love to hear what classic books top your ‘hope to read’ list. Until then…
Sail forth, to seek and read!

.


Take-Away Box

The untold want,
by life and land ne’er granted,

Now, Voyager, sail thou forth,
to seek and find.

— Walt Whitman

.


Thank you for reading!
Kelly J Hardesty

Thoughts? Questions?
Scroll down to the endand you can leave me a note!
Always so lovely to hear from you.
.

You Can Read More…

—————————–
notes & footnotes


#1.

Leaves of Grass is a poetry collection by Walt Whitman.

Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855.
He published his final edition in 1891.
(There were a half dozen editions—or more—in between.)

The 1892 edition is the most complete and the most commonly available.
It’s also called the ‘death-bed edition’ because it was
published just 3 months before Walt Whitman died.
At that point, Walt Whitman had been writing and re-writing this same book
for over 30 years. (Whitman called it “hackling at it.”)

Leaves of Grass (1891) contains over 400 poems.
By far the longest poem is Song of Myself, which is made up of 52 sections.
(It amounts to about 12% of his final 1891 editionand over half the original 1855 edition.)

The original 1855 edition was re-issued in 2005.
Oxford University Press published it as a 150th anniversary edition.
In this edition, David S Reynolds writes that when it came out in 1855,
nobody had ever seen anything like it.

Everything about it—the unusual jacket and title page,
the exuberant preface, the twelve free-flowing, untitled poems
embracing every realm of experience—was new.

– David S Reynolds

Note the long line lengths;
lines often spill over onto
an indented next line

Important note:
Whitman’s poetry is characterized by long line lengths:
a single line often spilling over onto an indented second line.
(See photo.)
Unfortunately, the format of my website does not
do justice to Whitman’s unique formatting style,
and for quotes throughout this post,
I had to add some extra line breaks.
(My apologies to Mr Whitman.)


#2.

I, Too by Langston Hughes is a short poem,
first published in 1926, at the height of the Harlem Renaissance.
Hughes wrote his poem in direct response to a short poem by Walt Whitman
called ‘I Hear America Singing’.
(Both poems are below, so you can see how they compare.)

But first, here’s a story that
Langston Hughes told about himself as a 21-year-old.

It was 1923, and Hughes had recently quit
after just one year at Columbia University.
He’d gotten a job aboard a ship headed for Africa,

waiting tables in the mess hall.
Standing at the rail, he threw all his schoolbooks overboard.

Melodramatic, maybe, it seems to me now…
I leaned over the rail of the S.S. Malone and
threw the books as far as I could out into the sea—
all the books I had had at Coumbia…
I felt that nothing would ever happen to me again
that I didn’t want to happen.

– from The Big Sea (1940)
a memoir by
Langston Hughes

The one book he kept was Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

You can read more about
Langston Hughes, his poetry & his travel memoir,

in my February 11, 2020 post called…Belonging
https://sky-t-tray.us/belonging/


I Hear America Singing
by
Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as
he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning,
or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.


I, Too
by
Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.


Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.


#3.

Fame is a 1980 movie musical
about teenagers at a performing arts high school in New York City.
The music was composed by Michael Gore with lyrics by Dean Pitchford.

The final song of the film lifted its title from one of
Walt Whitman’s poems in Leaves of Grass:
I Sing the Body Electric.

Here are some of the lyrics by Dean Pitchford
from the movie Fame.

I sing the body electric
I celebrate
the me yet come
I toast to my own reunion
When I become one with the sun


And I’ll look back on Venus
I’ll look back on Mars
And I’ll burn with the fire
Of ten million stars
And in time and in time
We will all be stars


I sing the body electric
I glory in the glow of rebirth
Creating my own tomorrow
When I shall embody the Earth


And here are some cherry-picked snippets of Walt Whitman’s poetry
that somewhat parallel—and may (or may not) have inspired the Pitchford’s lyrics:

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you
.

(The teeming lady comes,
The lustrous orb, Venus contralto,


My limbs and the quivering fire that ever plays through them, for
reasons, most wondrous
,

Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is
playing within me.


Then we burst forth, we float,
in time and space
o soul,

Askers embody themselves
in me and I am embodied in them,

America isolated yet embodying all, what is it finally except myself?
These States, what are they except myself
?

Here are the high school students in the movie Fame
performing I Sing the Body Electric
by Michael Gore with lyrics by Dean Pitchford.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG-wl2qqD7Y


#4.

Lauren Gunderson is a 39-year-old playwright
who had more plays produced in America in the past five years
than any other living playwright.
Her 2013 play I and You follows two teenagers working on (and clashing over)
a school project about Walt Whitman.
I got to see this play on stage in 2018, produced by Pygmalion Productions, Salt Lake City.
https://utahtheatrebloggers.com/26505/pygmalions-i-and-you-is-a-pleasing-duet


#5.

In the movie Dead’s Poet Society, Robin Williams dramatically scrawls
across the chalkboard a line from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
(or Uncle Walt as Professor Keating calls him).
Here’s that scene:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQU3EphIpMY

O Captain! my Captain! is another poem quoted in Dead’s Poet Society.
Whitman wrote it about Abraham Lincoln soon after the president was assassinated.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills


#6.

The quote by Colman Barks comparing Rumi to Walt Whitman
is from an interview Barks did with Andrew Lawler
in The Sun magazine (October 2007)
Barks called Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
“our own national poets…our odd couple”

You can read the whole article here:
www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/382/walking-around-in-the-heart

Coleman Barks has translated much of Rumi’s poetry into English.
A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Barks taught literature
for 30 years at the University of Georgia.
Coleman Barks also has several published books of his own poetry.

You can read more about Rumi’s poetry
in my October 1, 2019 post called…Dissolving Boundaries
https://sky-t-tray.us/dissolving-boundaries/


#7.

Walt Whitman: Builder for America (1941)
a biography by the poet
Babette Deutsch


#8.

In 1855, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a letter to Walt Whitman praising Leaves of Grass.
The 150th anniversary edition (from Oxford University Press) includes a reprint of the entire letter.
(It’s not long.)

Here’s an excerpt of it:

Dear Sir—I am not blind to the worth
of the wonderful gift of ‘Leaves of Grass.’
I find it
the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom
that America has yet contributed…
I give you joy of your free and brave thought.
I have great joy in it.
I find incomparable things
said incomparably well…

– Ralph Waldo Emerson
in a letter to Walt Whitman
July 21, 1855


#9.

Walt Whitman lived a long time and both his politics and his opinions
about social issues changed over the years. In general he was opposed to slavery,
but mostly because of the economic worry about free labor in the South
disadvantaging businesses in the North. He sometimes used awful racial slurs.
At one point he objected to having “too many” African Americans in Congress.
Yet Walt Whitman’s lasting impact is his poetry
and there he speaks eloquently and rousingly of freedom and equality.

Because of the radically democratic and
egalitarian aspects of his poetry, readers generally
expect [Whitman to have] transcended racist pressures…
He did not, at least not consistently;
nonetheless, his poetry has been a model for
democratic poets of all nations and races,
right up to our own day.
How Whitman could have been so prejudiced,
and yet so effective in conveying an egalitarian
and antiracist sensibility in his poetry, is a puzzle…

– from the essay “Racial attitudes”
by
George Hutchinson and David Drews
Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (1988)
edited by J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings


#10.

Claudia at spinsterslibrary made this wonderful video back in 2019.
Lots of good book recommendations here.
How to start reading classics: So you want to get into classic literature?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWpedVgfoV8


#11.

Ellie Dashwood made this video in 2020.
She is A) adorable B) very reassuring and C) super informative.
Is Reading Classic Books a Waste of Time? Maybe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCHHmXxTK0w

P.S. I had to look this one up:
When she says
OTP it means “one true pairing.”
In other words, the two characters you really, really
want to become a couple before the book ends.


#12.

Katie Lumsden at Books and Things made this super helpful video in 2019.
She talks kinda fast, but she gives lots of great recommendations.
10 Tips for Getting into Victorian Literature
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yC4-CQlg0Q


#13.

Seji at TheArtisanGeek made this outstanding video earlier this year.
She’s very easy to relate to, has terrific suggestions,
plus she’s very good at putting things in perspective regarding
what has and hasn’t been called “classic” over the years.
A Guide to Reading Classics (Beginner Friendly)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ql_oX2XISw


#14.

Leonie at TheBookLeo made this very interesting (and fun!) video in 2020.
How To Read Critically and Engage More With Books
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLcp7hKEu7E


#15.

“Walt Whitman’s Conversion To Opera”
an essay by Thomas L. Brasher
in Music in the USA: A Documentary Companion (2008)
edited by Judith Tick


#16.

The quote about “hackling” is from a letter Whitman wrote to a friend in 1891,
(He died the next year at age 73.)
Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography (1995)
by David S Reynolds


#17.

Here is the video where I learned about all those Don Quixote translations.
This video is fun because Benjamin McEvoy is clearly such a Cervantes fan.
Which Translation of Don Quixote is the Best? (Ranking 9 Translations of Cervantes)
by Benjamin McEvoy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZrS7f9orFg

Cervantes’ Don Quixote is definitely on my ‘hope to read’ list!
As is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontë,
Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and Dickens’ Little Dorrit
none of which I’ve read and all of which I want to soon!


#18.

Here are 5 of my favorite classics (these I have read!)
with links to my posts about them.

Wives and Daughters
by
Elizabeth Gaskell

Mrs Dalloway
by
Virginia Woolf

Rebecca
by
Daphne du Maurier

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by
Betty Smith

Eugene Onegin
by Alexander Pushkin

STT-66

sky-t-tray.us
© Kelly J Hardesty 2022

2 thoughts on “Walt”

  1. Oh Kelly,

    You really outdid yourself with this fabulous post. I enjoyed listening to some of the videos and recordings you included. And one day, when my to-do list gets a little shorter, I will go back and listen to all the info about reading classic books. My all time favorite was ‘War and Peace’ because it helped me to understand the realities of war in a way I never imagined before.
    Much love,
    Lois

  2. Thank you so much, Lois! I’m glad you liked the post. Now I’m inspired by how ‘War and Peace’ affected you. I’ve yet to read any of the big Russian novels, except ‘Anna Karenina,’ which I very much enjoyed. I’m thinking I’ll try ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ next. Thank you again for your kind words, Lois!
    Love – Kelly

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