Born on Long Island and raised in Brooklyn, Walt Whitman spent his childhood and early adulthood amid the sights and sounds of New York City and its environs.
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).
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015