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Walt Whitman's Pose

Shephard, Esther. Walt Whitman's Pose. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1936.
literary criticism, history

In this literary biography of Whitman from the 1930s, Esther Shephard attempts to turn back the tide of a a burgeoning "Whitmaniana" (her term, which she uses on the first page of her preface) by exposing Whitman for having stolen his "pose" as a bohemian loafer from George Sand. Shephard writes, "The source of Leaves of Grass is, in spite of all of Walt Whitman's protestations to the contrary, in the fragment of a book, the epilogue of a French novel. The novel is The Countess of Rudolstadt, by George Sand" (140).

Shephard also refers to another Sand novel as a key to understanding Whitman's time at Pfaff's. She writes, "If Walt Whitman read [Sand's] The Mosaic-Workers, we have also a clue to his 'Pfaff period,' when he was a frequenter of Pfaff's restaurant, another paradox in his biography" (247). Specifically, Shephard refers to the character of Valerio from the novel, a young artist "whose opinions on art, health, lovers, mistresses, orgies and other recreations are so strangely like thos of Walt Whitman in his character as 'the prince of Bohemians'" (247).

People Mentioned in this Work

Whitman, Walt [pages:246-47]

Whitman is mentioned throughout the book. Shephard discusses Whitman's relationship to the character Valerio from George Sand's novel The Mosaic Workers on pages 246-47.