cover image Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman. Oxford University Press, $35 (167pp) ISBN 978-0-19-518342-9

As scholarship has made its importance to American letters more manifest, editions of the 1855 version of Whitman's masterpiece have multiplied. This one, prepared in honor of the poem's 150th anniversary, will be hard to beat. Edited by major Americanist Reynolds (Walt Whitman's America, etc.), it comes as close as possible, without being a facsimile, to reproducing Whitman's original text, which he famously self-published. The familiar litho of the young rough with open collar opens the book, and Reynold's terrific and informative afterword closes it, along with contemporary reviews (some written by Whitman himself) and Emerson's famous letter (""I greet you at the beginning of a great career...""). Those who know Whitman only through the beautiful but bloated 1892 ""deathbed"" edition of Leaves of Grass will find here a lean, searing celebration of self.