Book Review: Mark Twain, Man in White

For decades, the accepted view of Mark Twain’s last years is that he spent that time as a bitter, angry misanthrope, railing against human nature, religion, and society. Certainly, a posthumously-published collection of some of Twain’s more vitriolic essays, Mark Twain in Eruption (1940, edited by biographer and historian Bernard DeVoto) supports this view. It is also bolstered by Twain biographies, including Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain by Justin Kaplan and Mark Twain: God’s Fool by Hamlin Lewis Hill. Continue reading

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Understanding Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman is America’s greatest poet.  He is read not only by Americans but by people around the world. Whitman has been lovingly translated by many of the great poets of other languages and found an enthusiastic following in places as diverse as India and South Africa.   Walt Whitman intended his work to be a portrait of America and also a reflection of its democratic values.  He wrote for Americans but he is now a part of a world literature.  For many people across the globe Walt Whitman is the voice of America.  If you want to learn more about America there is no better place to start than by reading Walt Whitman.  Walt Whitman is the poet who best exemplifies America’s unique literary tradition and culture. Continue reading