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4.2 out of 5 stars
Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition (Dover Thrift Editions)
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2001
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. Whitman also revised his poems later on, adding "poetic" reversals of word-order and using a more "elevated" diction; whereas here the poems are vigorously colloquial ("I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world" he declares at one point).
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2009
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2015
As Amazon still clump together reviews which could related to many different editions- this review is for the 1855 edition, brown/maroon cloth cover with gold inlay by Amereon Limited. I wanted a nice edition of this amazing work. This is not quite it. At first I thought it was a dreaded 'Print on Demand' book. It might well be, I don't know. The paper is ivory acid free and of a good weight. The inlay on the front is scrappy but passable. The huge let down is the print. It is not dark and crisp; it is computer printed text, exactly like the trusty Canon's used to print- in 1989. It is grey and undefined and strains the eyes after a while. Not £15 worth of book, that's for sure. Even my 5 year old printer at home prints superior text to this. What are they thinking? If I met a student studying Whitman, I would give them this copy to make notes in and buy myself a better one. I think I will have to anyway… The hunt goes on...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 November 2013
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2014
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
on 7 October 2012
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
on 12 September 2012
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2012
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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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 1998
In the three days I have had The Modern Library's edition of Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass', it has become my favorite book. It is a beautiful celebration of the passions in life, awakening and tantilizing the reader as no other book of poetry has ever done (for me). I look forward to passing this beautiful book and its passion for life on to my children.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 1997
I feel this book has the passion of life exploding in every word uttered by the poet. His unique style of transcending his thoughts to the readers liturally over powers my soul with sheer joy and love.
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