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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 3 January 2014
This is NOT a review about Leaves of Grass but a warning about the editions available .
Three buffoons have already given me negative votes for writing this piece. What planet are they living on? Please read it carefully and then see it for what it is - me trying to be helpful!There is much confusion over editions of Leaves of Grass! I really recommend that you DO NOT BUY until you have checked with the seller it is the actual edition you want. The facsimile editions are rare and quite expensive. The 1855 edition is totally different from the Deathbed edition which conatains 350 more poems although some have been toned down from the first edition.Despite carefully checking in advance - I was sent a modern reprint NOT the wonderful Library of American Poets edition actually advertised! Amazon sorted it out for me but I could not purchase the edition on Amazon I wanted and ended up using a specialist antiquarian book site who really knew what they were doing! Despite it's generally excellent service, Amazon do not always seem to be able to differentiate between editions of books or DVDs, and everything, including reviews, end up being lumped together - often with disastrous results such as I have experienced - for its customers. So many people have complained about this so I cannot see why Amazon do not correct the problem.

If you want the true product listed above - The Library of American Poets facsimile - and there now seems to be one real edition available at £90 - rest assured it's a wonderfully produced copy and in its size, weight, type press setting etc, provides you with a book as near to the original as you could ever hope for - or afford!! It's like holding the actual publication Whitman produced - for he typeset, printed and bound the original copies himself!
This facsimile is a wonderful, and much prized, artifact.
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on 25 December 2016
The rating reflects the dismal quality of this paperback print. I've included some photos. Someone has imported the contents of this book into a word processor and pressed print without even looking at it or caring. The font used is that of an old electric typewriter, the whole of the main text is in italics for some reason. It is set out and spaced badly with random odd words that wouldn't fit on the end of a line shoved onto the next. The cover is made of cheap thin glossy card and has not been printed straight so there is an uneven sliver of white going across the top. I have seen plenty of shonky knockoffs like this for sale on street stalls, but not for sale at a premium price on amazon. The only publisher information is on the back page: Printed in Poland by Amazon Fulfilment, whatever that means. From now on I will look out for "Createspace Independent Publishing" and avoid like the plague! This type of print should be a last resort for books that are not available in any other format or are otherwise out of print. It really is pretty disgraceful that this quality of print is endorsed and sold by Amazon.
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on 23 April 2017
Leaves of Grass is supposed to be a masterpiece, a lifelong project by one of America’s earliest famous poets – Walt Whitman. Whitman was a huge influence for loads of the poets that I’m into, notably for Allen Ginsberg, but I just couldn’t get into his work. It was too wordy, and too bland, and too unemotional – I like poetry to relate back to my life, and Leaves of Grass doesn’t do that.

It does have an interesting story behind it, though – its first edition was published relatively early on in Whitman’s life, but he continued to revise it and to add material throughout the majority of his life, which resulted in there being multiple different versions of the manuscript. My copy is published by Oxford Classics, and theoretically, the editor ensured that the version in my hands was as close to Whitman’s vision as possible. One gets the feeling that, like Tolkien, he was never truly satisfied with his work, and that his poems and the book itself could have continued to have evolved indefinitely if Whitman had lived forever.

Really, it’s hard to recommend this unless you’re a serious student of poetry – it’s not exactly an easy read, and I can’t imagine most of the people I know, for example, ever wanting to read it. For me, I read it to satisfy my personal curiosity about Walt Whitman, and whilst I am glad that I’ve read this, I definitely wouldn’t read it again. Whitman’s work is just too traditional for me, but more than that – it’s also difficult to relate to. At least with traditional love poetry, I know what the author is talking about.

One interesting thing to note is that, like Allen Ginsberg scores of years later, Whitman came under fire for his representations of sexuality and the human body. Whilst this was scandalous at the time, it seems kind of tame compared to some of the stuff that I’ve read, and it wasn’t worth getting excited about. In fact, it’s worth noting that Whitman weaves it into his work like it’s no big deal, which it isn’t, but it was at the time.

Like almost all of the disappointing ‘classics‘ that I’ve read, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass deserves a spot on your bookcase not because it’s a lot of fun to read, but because of its influence, and its place in history. In fact, you could write a whole essay just on the effects that its publication had, but I’m starting to run out of words and so I’m not going to do that. Suffice to say that I only read this because I’m a poet – if you’re not a poet, it’s probably not worth reading it, unless you’re seriously studying it. Or maybe that’s just me.
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on 18 July 2013
Well, where do I begin? I had high hopes for Leaves of Grass - Whitman dedicated most of his life to writing it, and it's a key influence for some of the more contemporary poets that I read. I wasn't expecting anything amazing, I thought it might be like The Collected Works of William Carlos Williams. I wasn't expecting this.

Leaves of Grass is one of less than half a dozen books that it's taken me over six months to read - for the curious, the others are The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Oxford English Dictionary and The Letters of Allen Ginsberg. I was carrying it around with me for so long that I left a copy on the train and had to buy another one. In the end, I gave up and read it in short chunks, one twenty minute session every week or so.

It's not even that it was long - it was long and unpleasant, and a huge disappointment considering all of the praise it's received over the years. First published in 1855, when Whitman was in his late thirties, the poet spent the rest of his life revising and adding to it - the final version, dubbed 'the deathbed edition', was released 36 years later in 1891.

Now, I'm not saying that Whitman is a terrible poet - after all, I'm not exactly qualified to challenge him. Having said that, calling Whitman a bad poet is like calling Justin Bieber a bad musician - it's all matter of taste. I'd rather listen to Bieber albums back-to-back for a day than re-read Leaves of Grass, though.

Quite frankly, I can't help but feel worried about the whole thing - is this being used in English lessons across the States? Is this a whole generation's first exposure to poetry? If so, I can start to understand why nobody really cares about poetry anymore - if this was my first exposure to the great art then I doubt I'd have bothered to dig deeper and uncover Charles Bukowski or Allen Ginsberg.

That's not to say that Leaves of Grass doesn't have its place in the annuls of literary history, it's just that there are more accessible works out there, other books that you'll actually enjoy reading. I'm not ashamed of the fact that I read for pleasure - why should I be? All good art forms are created and regarded for the joy of creation and regarding, so why should Leaves of Grass be any different, just because 'it's a classic'?

Overall, Leaves of Grass is best left to academics and lovers of traditional poetry who don't mind spending evening after evening feeling dull and uninspired as they tediously turn over the pages and wander closer to the end. Have fun with that.
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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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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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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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on 12 April 2013
I love Walt Whitman. waht a wonderful poet and great to be able to get it electronically too. Even better since it cost nothing!
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on 1 July 2016
I haven't read this slowly for years and years. Lots of re-reading and much quiet thought. A remarkable man, not easy, very challenging but well worth the effort. Takes the reader away from our consumer culture to something very profound, the transcendence of the self. Whitman tells you to carefully examine all that you have been told and to dismiss what insults your soul. Lots of thinking and reflecting needed.
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on 4 November 2017
This makes a fantastic everyman sort of a Bible. The large print is a treat to look upon. No page numbers, however, and little differentiation between the different 'books' of Leaves of G. But these are mere quibbles. I'd not part with this colossal tome for more than double what I laid out.
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