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  • 4 Whitman and Dickinson
  • M. Jimmie Killingsworth

Whitman scholars were especially active this year in bibliography and historicist criticism. An annotated bibliography by Brent Gibson extends previously published reference guides to Whitman scholarship, and Mark Maslan's critical study Whitman Possessed explores the intersection of poetics, politics, and culture—areas also covered in several major essays dealing with issues of gender, race, and national identity. Important new work on Whitman's reception in England appeared as well. Dickinson scholarship enjoys a surge of interest in biography with the publication of My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson by Alfred Habegger as well as a book by Marietta Messmer that consolidates and extends criticism of Dickinson's letters. Other works focus predominantly on topics in poetics, culture, and literary history.

i Walt Whitman

a. Bibliography and Editing

An Annotated Walt Whitman Biography, 1976–1985 (Mellen) by Brent Gibson builds on the reference guides of Scott Giantvalley and Donald D. Kummings, whose books (and supplementary articles) in the early 1980s provided annotated bibliographies for works about Whitman from his lifetime up through 1975. Gibson covers the next decade, during which, among other developments, critical approaches diversified in a field formerly dominated by biography and the New Criticism. Psychoanalytical studies in particular flourished. Like the works of Giantvalley and Kummings, Gibson's book is dependable in its coverage, brief but clear and informative in its introduction and annotations, and overall usable, though the lack of running heads hampers navigation because the index gives citations by year and item number rather than by page number.

WWQR editor Ed Folsom continues to produce benchmark work in "Walt Whitman: A Current Bibliography," published in each issue of the journal (18: 156–62, 200–205; 19: 56–62, 114–18; available in an online version reformatted as an annual bibliography from 1975 to the present). WWQR also provides the best forum for articles on Whitman bibliography and textual criticism. This year's offerings include Gary Wihl's "The Manuscript of Walt Whitman's 'Sunday Evening Lectures' " (WWQR 18: 107–33), which documents a discovery in the Hanley Collection at the University of Texas overlooked by previous bibliographers. The lectures, which focus on the German idealist philosophers, were first published by Richard Maurice Bucke in 1902. Wihl's transcriptions call into question some of Bucke's interpretations and decisions about how to arrange the text. In " 'Ashes of Soldiers': Walt Whitman and C. H. Sholes, a New Letter and a Newspaper Article" (WWQR 18: 186–87) Ted Genoways provides transcriptions and tells the story of Whitman's correspondence with Sholes, a contemporary admirer of the poet's work in the hospitals and his accounts of the Civil War. Another ardent defender of the poet was the sales agent E. C. Walker of Norway, Iowa, whose promotion of Leaves of Grass comes to light in Ed Folsom's " 'The Suppressed Book!': A Previously Unreported Whitman Broadside" (WWQR 18: 188–89 and back cover). Folsom reproduces another recent discovery in "A Manuscript Draft of Whitman's Preface, 1876" (WWQR 19: 63 and back cover). In "A Sheaf of Uncollected Nineteenth-Century Whitman Notices and Reviews" (WWQR 19: 108–10) Gary Scharnhorst gives transcriptions of eight items published between 1841 and 1882 ranging in length from one sentence to two paragraphs and ranging in opinion from condemnations of Whitman's "ravings" and "absurd theories of composition" to praise of Leaves of Grass as "an American classic." In "A Newly Discovered Walter Whitman, Sr., Document" (WWQR 19: 111–12) Joann P. Krieg reports on a bill dated 1834 that was submitted by the poet's carpenter father for the construction of a Methodist church on Long Island.

Whitman scholars will welcome an important new edited collection, Gary Schmidgall's Intimate with Walt: Selections from Whitman's Conversations with Horace Traubel, 1888–1892 (Iowa). Traubel's multivolume work With Walt Whitman in Camden, based on almost daily interviews with Whitman in old age, has long been recognized as an essential source for understanding the poet's attitudes toward his life, times, and writing. But the complete work is in many ways inaccessible. The nine volumes were issued over...


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