By Gary Schmidgall
It really is now tricky to visualize that, within the years prior to Whitman's loss of life in 1892, there has been actual doubt within the minds of Whitman and his literary circle no matter if Leaves of Grass might in attaining lasting status. a lot of the serious remark within the first decade after his burial in Camden was once as destructive as that during Boston's Christian sign in, which noted Whitman as a person who “succeeded in writing a mass of trash with out shape, rhythm, or vitality.” That the stability eventually tipped towards admiration, culminating in Whitman's popularity into the literary canon, used to be due considerably to the unflagging hard work of Horace Traubel, well-known for his 9 volumes of Whitman conversations yet much less renowned for his provocative per 30 days magazine of socialist politics and avant-garde tradition, the Conservator. preserving Walt Whitman's repute bargains a beneficiant choice from the big trove of Whitman-related fabrics that Traubel integrated within the 352 problems with the Conservator. one of the revelatory, perceptive, and sometimes interesting goods provided listed below are the main illuminating of the Conservator's greater than a hundred and fifty topical essays on Whitman and memoirs by way of lots of his neighbors and literary cohorts that shed new mild at the poet, his paintings, and his serious reception. additionally very important is the richer knowing those pages find the money for of Horace Traubel's personal subtle, deeply humane, and feisty perspectives of the United States.
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Additional resources for Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame: Selections from Horace Traubel's Conservator, 1890-1919 (Iowa Whitman Series)
When John Johnston sent his pamphlet Notes of a Visit to Walt Whitman to Camden in 1890, the ﬂattered poet wrote him a letter saying, “I endorse all,” but he added in parentheses, “barring their fearfully eulogistic tinge” (quoted 28:109). The fearful tinge of adulation, albeit genuine and heartfelt, makes heavy going of many a Whitman-related article or ﬁller. A whiff of this overripe partisanship can be found in A. B. ” Horace recalled that Walt “was far more afraid of being made too much of than of being made too little of ” and warned Horace “to beware of the gushers” (23).
Progress is the realization of Utopias” (11:155). When Traubel reviewed Wilde’s essay collection Intentions (8), he argued eloquently for Wilde’s legacy: “There was a decade during which Wilde was popularly looked upon as a fool. There was a decade in which he was popularly looked upon as a degenerate. A third decade has ensued. ” Now “the world is losing its puritanic accent. ” Traubel’s feelings about Wilde’s creative works, however, were vexed, as they were for Whitman himself (see W2:192).
The funny bone is tickled most often in the material collected here where the cultural wars in which both Whitman and Traubel engaged are the hottest. There is much humor in the printerial ﬁsticuffs in the items gathered in Walt Whitman in the Conservator xxxvii “The Whitman Wars,” notably in the way Traubel sank his incisors in the ankle of Walt’s ﬁrst biographer, Bliss Perry. Also entertaining are several of Traubel’s reviews of editions or books on Whitman that displeased him. The squibs and ﬁllers gathered in part VII offer many hijinks, too, ranging from the Christian Register’s worry over Walt’s “mass of trash,” to Joaquin Miller’s memory of Walt’s pencil ﬂourishing atop a Fifth Avenue omnibus (“I reckon Walt Whitman could write anywhere”), to Ernest Crosby’s feisty suggestion that, instead of installing Walt in a planned Hall of Fame up in the Bronx, the true homage would be, of course, a ferry boat named after him.
Conserving Walt Whitman's Fame: Selections from Horace Traubel's Conservator, 1890-1919 (Iowa Whitman Series) by Gary Schmidgall