Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Walt Whitman’s ‘New Book’

Walt Whitman House, Camden, N.J.
Walt Whitman House, Camden, N.J.

That scholars would publish newly found material written by Walt Whitman is not surprising.

In a time where old newspapers are being digitized and new methods of scholarship seine existing publications like factory ships trawl the Bering Sea, Whitman’s voluminous work shows up.

Manly Health and Training: With Offhand Hints Toward Their Conditions, serialized beginning in 1858, and written under Whitman pen name Mose Velsor, was published on line in its entirety in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review edited by Ed Folsom. Read Jeff Charis-Carlson’s article about the new Whitman book in the Iowa City Press Citizen.

I’m not ready for more Whitman.

My relationship with Whitman is comprised mostly of the 1983 visit my wife, her brother, and I made to Whitman’s home in Camden, N.J. It is a simple place, much neglected over the years. By then it was restored to be a fitting remembrance of his last days. It is the only home Whitman owned.

Whitman's Last Home
Whitman’s Last Home

It was easy to imagine supplicants waiting downstairs for their turn to meet with Whitman in his parlor/bedroom up the narrow stairway. More than the host of American writers who preceded him, Walt Whitman was tangible, with footprints in society. He left them everywhere.

I hope to return to reading Whitman’s work, even this newest publication.

Yet there is so much to do and take in — and even in good health, life is short. Nonetheless, a new Whitman book is news, and in the digital age, it is available for free to anyone with access to the internet. A type of democratization Whitman may have appreciated.