Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Bibliography of Walt Whitman   By:

The Bibliography of Walt Whitman by Frank Shay

First Page:

The Whitman Bibliography

This edition of the WHITMAN BIBLIOGRAPHY is limited to five hundred numbered copies, of which this is No. 288

[Illustration: Walt Whitman]




Copyright, 1920, by Friedmans'.

To the memory of HORACE TRAUBEL 1856 1919 Poet, Philosopher, Comrade


" Camerado, this is no book; Who touches this touches a man. "

Walt Whitman's relation to his work was more personal than that of most poets. He was, in a larger sense, a man of one book, and this book, issued and reissued at various periods of the poet's life, was, at each issuance, the latest expression of his development. The infinite care he gave to his work; the continual study of each poem resulted in changes in each edition. The book literally grew with the man and in the present authorized edition of today we have his final and complete utterance.

Whitman's early fugitive work presents to the student a curious anomaly. It gives no intimation of the great nature that later produced Leaves of Grass and Democratic Vistas. In quality it was beneath the standards of the nickle dreadfuls of yesterday. Bearing such titles as "One Wicked Impulse"; "Revenge and Requital, Tale of a Murderer Escaped"; "The Angel of Tears"; (many of them are in the Prose Works) they appealed to a class to whom thought was anathema and reading solely a pastime. They are didactic to the extreme, presenting the horrible results of sin and the corresponding rewards of virtue. Their value as literature, however, does not come within the province of the bibliographer.

The care Whitman bestowed upon his writings was carried to the mechanical production of his books. Each edition was manufactured under his supervision and when completed represented the latest and highest achievements in commercial bookmaking. Further, he took such an intense personal interest in the sale of his books that he invariably knew at all times the number of copies sold and the number on hand.

The first edition comprised three distinct variations. The first of these, in paper wrappers, are undoubtedly the result of Whitman's impatience at the delays of the binder. Considering that he had a press at his disposal, it is not assuming too much to suggest that while awaiting deliveries from the binder he printed the jackets himself for immediate use. This is the only way to account for the existence of the paper copies. Further proof that this contention is correct is that each copy bears an inscription in Whitman's holograph.

Though Whitman insisted that "the entire edition sold readily" there is little doubt he meant circulated. In fact, they were circulated so rapidly a new edition was required within ten months. This second edition was a dumpy sexto decimo of nearly four hundred pages. Twenty new poems were added, one of the earlier poems was dropped and all were retouched. This edition did sell rapidly and only fear of public criticism prevented the publishers from reissuing the book. The failure to find a firm to stand sponsor for his book discouraged Whitman to the extent of planning to go West and pioneer. His plans for this venture were completed when Thayer and Eldridge opened negotiations for the book's republication with any new material available. This offer took the poet to Boston to oversee the work and in May, 1860, a substantial volume, with many new poems came from the press. The book went through two editions, a total of between thirty five hundred and four thousand copies when the publishers failed. The plates were sold at auction and went to a notorious pirate, who, within the next ten years, published and sold over ten thousand copies. Whitman had no control over these crimped editions and forever after they were a torment to him.

It was not until after the Civil War that a new authentic edition was published again without a publisher... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books