The works of Walt Whitman (1819-1892) have been described as masculine, feminine, postcolonial, homoerotic, urban, organic, unique, and democratic. While he is widely accepted as the father of free verse, not all scholars agree on Whitman's understanding of democracy. A Political Companion to Walt Whitman examines the degree to which Whitman should be considered a political thinker.
This collection is the first anthology to analyze the works of Whitman from a primary political perspective. With original and classic contributions from editor John E. Seery and an array of prominent theorists and philosophers, this distinctive volume uncovers the political awareness of Whitman's poetry and prose.
Some critics deny the existence of political opinions in Whitman's poetry. Others regard Whitman as a political philosopher and a great teacher of individuality, finding compelling evidence of these traits in his 1871 essay "Democratic Vistas," which touches on themes such as pluralism versus solidarity, the status of the democratic individual, voting rights, republican participation, women's suffrage, and political liberty. Still others argue that although Whitman showed a clear interest in these issues, he did not necessarily hold a coherent political position.
A Political Companion to Walt Whitman is an extraordinary collection that explores Whitman's faith in American potential, his call for a revolution in literature and political culture, and his belief in the possibility of combining heroic individualism with democratic justice. Reaching beyond literature into political theory, A Political Companion to Walt Whitman reveals the ideology behind Whitman's call for the emergence of American poets of democracy.
"Whitman is indeed one of the great theorists of democracy, but is not often taught as part of the canon of American political thought, an oversight that this volume goes far to remedy." -- George Shulman, author of American Prophecy: Race and Redemption in American Political Culture
"For so long we have reveled in the music of Whitman's songs and the beauty of his language. Now we have the definitive political Whitman whose moral courage takes us into the heart of Democratic theory. These essays glisten in the Whitmanesque sun!" -- Cornel West, Princeton University
"[E]xceptionally rich and intellectually exciting." -- Choice
"This volume brings Whitman into conversation with political theory by way of examination of his major works. The authors, several of whom argue with each other, exhibit the wonderful diversity of contemporary political theory, moving from humanist to post humanist appreciations of Whitman, and from seeing him as a thinker of solitude committed to individual rights to one of erotic connection. This wonderful collection is a timely invitation to political and social theorists to take seriously this imaginative man who solicited us to think and sing democracy." -- Bonnie Honig, author of Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy
"Seery has assembled in this book a powerfully persuasive collection of essays showing that Whitman should be first and foremost understood as a philosopher of democracy. The essays deal with all aspects of Whitman and with all of his works. We have here not only a political companion to Whitman but a book showing us that Whitman is our political companion and that we do well to listen to his voices." -- Tracy Strong, University of California, San Diego
" A Political Companion to Walt Whitman has many strengths. Chief among these is its disciplinary focus, which results in a number of novel readings of Whitman's works." -- Journal of American Studies
Series: Political Companions to Great American Authors
Number Of Pages: 368
Published: 11th January 2011
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 16.51 x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.75