Walt Whitman (1819-1892) is most famous as a poet, but throughout his life he worked in a variety of other forms of writing. In his early days as a schoolteacher and journalist in New York, he wrote fiction and nonfiction for the periodical press, on topics from temperance and poverty to manly health. During the Civil War, he visited military hospitals as a volunteer and wrote about the soldiers he encountered. In the last part of his life he turned to memoirs and cultural observations. He published Memoranda During the War in 1876 based on notebooks he kept in the wards, and he recycled old materials and penned new passages to create his autobiographical Specimen Days and Collect (1882), followed by November Boughs (1888) and Good-bye My Fancy (1891). His prose earned him money and entertained, informed, or swayed social and political opinions of his readers. From his musings on the impact of the war, his notes on famous people, to his parsing of the larger meanings of metaphysics and democracy, new sides to Whitman are revealed in this sampling of prose pages from the Feinberg-Whitman collection.
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