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Leaves of Grass: The First (1855) Edition (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 25 Jun 1981


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1st (1855) Ed edition (25 Jun 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140421998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140421996
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,153 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Whitman, the great poet, has meant so much to me. Whitman the one man breaking a way ahead. Whitman the one pioneer . . . Ahead of Whitman, nothing. Ahead of all poets, pioneering into the wilderness of unopened life, Whitman. Beyond him, none." --D. H. Lawrence

About the Author

Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) is one of the greatest American poets. Leaves of Grass was published in 1855, which he added to and reshuffled throughout his life.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
America does not repel the past or what it has produced under its forms or amid other politics or the idea of castes or the old religions . . . accepts the lesson with calmness ... is not so impatient as has been supposed that the slough still sticks to opinions and manners and literature while the life which served its requirements has passed into the new life of the new forms . . . perceives that the corpse is slowly borne from the eating and sleeping rooms of the house . . . perceives that it waits a little while in the door . . . that it was fittest for its days . . . that its action has descended to the stalwart and wellshaped heir who approaches . . . and that he shall be fittest for his days. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 2001
Format: Paperback
This edition is very different to the later _Leaves of Grass_. Whitman was one of those poets who go on expanding their book of poems throughout their life. (Rather like Baudelaire with his _Flowers of Evil_.) Some people consider the earlier edition superior to the later: certainly it seems more radical, with unhierarchical punctuation (frequent use of . . . .), no titles for the poems, no numbering of sections (Cowley inserts titles and numbering in brackers for ease of reference), and, as the book came to its first readers, no author's name, only an engraving (reproduced in this book) of Whitman in an open shirt and jaunitly cocked hat!
What can anyone have thought opening this unattributed book and turning to the first poem, the 60 pages of what later was called 'Song of Myself''? This immense, fantastic, multi-facated, boastful, ambitious, tender work seems to me a work of art that really justifies the often misused work "original". It's amazing to think that while England had Tennyson, America had
Walt Whitman, an America, 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.
Whitman then shouts:
Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
Whitman represents America at what seems to me its best -- bold, immense, pioneering, multiracial, unsnobbish and unashamed to feel. The first edition is perhaps the best place to meet his poetry, as it isn't diluted by many of the later poems, some of which are very short -- more like epigrams (one-sided) than the many-sided long poems here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Adrian Drew TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Nov 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a facsimile of the 1855 edition.
The illustration given is of the paper jacket. The actual cover is not the embossed version you might imagine and hope for...
Similarly the book size is considerably smaller than the original version and the font etc etc are nothing like the original either.
This is simply the text of the first version of "Leaves of Grass" with an interesting afterword by David S. Reynolds who has also written extensively on Whitman and now provides an admirably precise and concise summary of his life and ideas together with a substantial selection of early reviews about Leaves of Grass and some correspondence concerning the poems.
Over the nature of the "facsimile" itself, despite Professor Reynolds legitimate belief that the edition approximates in many ways to the first edition, I should have realised that to expect a convincing facsimile when I saw the price was so much less than other "facsimile" versions on offer, was totally unrealistic.
This just shows the limitations of the internet - you can't actually see the real product...
Well now I have learned the hard way.....
(Amendment November 20th 2013) Amazon now includes the ability to "look through" a digital copy of the book on the sales page which is tremendously useful for new purchasers. If you want a true facsimile go for the Eakins version or better still The Library of American Poets 2009 edition which looks, weighs and feels like the real thing and has been correctly printed on excellent paper stock with a pressed pressure process to reproduce the authentic feel of the imprinted typeface. The covers of both versions have been beautifully embossed in green and gold like the original copy Whitman hand printed and presented to Emerson. The former is about £40 and the latter around £100 - although in the Amazon marketplace one is available at £29 as I write.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paumanok on 26 May 2009
Format: Paperback
This is poetry at it's very best, it is truly a life-changing experience. Leaves of grass is a book to treasure for a lifetime, a feast for the heart and mind every time you open it. Whitman's soul is in direct communion with yours as he weaves a tapestry of wonder and joy on every page. His words burn deep and enter into the very fibre of your being and I guarantee that once you are touched by walt's magic you will never be the same...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arwen on 25 Aug 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Walt Whitman's poetry is feisty in content, thoughtful and perceptive. He did not shy away from topics which were not usually discussed at the time of writing, nor from relating them to his own experience. His style broke many expected and accepted rules of the era, but is as relevant and open today and reveals the man as well as the poet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eddie Baines on 29 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would imagine that many people would buy a book of this type as a present, in which case a slightly more substantial faux leather , gilded and embossed cover would be far more appropriate.
I would have preferred to have paid twice the price and have something more suitable to give as a present.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nick on 7 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Blew me away. I hadn't realised Whitman was a transcendentalist a la Thoreau and Emerson and loved discovering the seeds of the Beat generation in his often sublime poetry. Highly recommended.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Hank, S on 12 Sep 2012
Format: Hardcover
You really can't beat this for toilet reading!

To my OTHER favorite
W.W
It's an honour
working with you
Fondly
G.B.

Also, naa-tatatatatata.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By ThomasFarquhar on 21 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Written in the epic style reminiscent of Homer and Vergil, these modern (19th Century) poems hark back to the traditional Classical world but choosing subjects appropriate to their time of writing. This confluence of Ancient and Modern clearly demonstrates that the Classical world is still alive around us. Reading the poems is like listening to classical music, they are lyrical, literate and a joy to read.
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