User menu


Walt Whitman

Reynolds, David S. Walt Whitman. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

In this brief biography of Whitman written for Oxford University Press's "Lives and Legacies" series, Reynolds draws upon the research from his much longer Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography.

In a short section on the Pfaff's period, Reynolds identifies a number of fellow writers with whom Whitman fraternized at the New York City bar, including Fitz-Hugh Ludlow, William Dean Howells, and Bram Stoker, whom he identifies as "the Poe-like writer of Gothic tales" (15). Conventional scholarly wisdom has been that Whitman met Stoker, the author of Dracula, in 1884 in Philadelphia. Reynolds does not cite a source to support Whitman's meeting with Stoker during the Pfaff's period.

Reynolds also refers to the "Live Oak with Moss" sequence of poems that Whitman wrote during this period, a sequence that would form the core of the much longer "Calamus" cluster in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. Reynolds says that the sequence "describes the joys and pains of an intense but ill-fated relationship with a man" (16).

People Mentioned in this Work

Clare, Ada [pages:15]

Reynolds says that during the Pfaff's period Whitman "appeared to have had a brief affair with a woman, possibly Ada Clare" (15).

Howells, William [pages:15]

Identified as a writer Whitman met at Pfaff's.

Ludlow, Fitz Hugh [pages:15]

Identified as a writer Whitman met at Pfaff's.

Pfaff, Charles [pages:15]

Identified as "a poet and Abolitionist" and the proprietor of Pfaff's beer hall.

Whitman, Walt [pages:15-16]

Whitman is mentioned throughout the book, but his connection to the Pfaff's period is limited to pages 15-16.