Walt Whitman's Split Poetic Personalities

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dc.contributor.advisor Burt, John
dc.contributor.author Kolbe, Ben
dc.date.accessioned 2009-07-23T21:10:17Z
dc.date.available 2009-07-23T21:10:17Z
dc.date.issued 2009
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10192/23301
dc.description.abstract Walt Whitman fills his poetry with contradictions and inconsistencies as he explores different solutions to complex spiritual, social, and psychological problems. Such contradictions often take the form of competing first-person characters, each with a different set of beliefs, powers, and experiences. In the 1855 first edition of Leaves of Grass especially, there is a chaotic tension between other and self, unity and difference, transcendence and isolation, knowledge and confusion, reality and façade, and power and weakness. These tensions play out in the realm of the “I” as the narrator regularly shifts his form and his relationship to the world around him. Twentieth-century critics have read Whitman from a variety of angles. Most readings identify a division of competing projects or voices, but the nature of the division depends on the particular critical lens at work. In particular, this essay examines D. H. Lawrence, Malcolm Cowley, Harold Bloom, and Vivian Pollak as readers of Whitman. Each of them finds it necessary to reduce the complexity of the poetry, but each also contributes an important critical analysis that expands the discussion of Whitman’s critical tensions and their purposes. Ultimately, I argue that Whitman’s division of contradictory first person voices offers his poetry a unique rhetorical force.
dc.description.sponsorship Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Brandeis University
dc.relation.ispartofseries Brandeis University Theses and Dissertations
dc.rights Copyright by Ben Kolbe 2009
dc.subject Walt Whitman
dc.title Walt Whitman's Split Poetic Personalities
dc.type Thesis
dc.contributor.department Department of English and American Literature
dc.degree.name MA
dc.degree.level Masters
dc.degree.discipline English and American Literature
dc.degree.grantor Brandeis University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


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