Walt Whitman on Democracy
WHITMAN, WALT. Democratic Vistas
Washington, D.C: [Printed for J. S. Redfield, New York], 1871
Original green wrappers. A near fine copy.
FIRST EDITION. One of about 500 copies.
In these essays on democracy and individualism, Whitman provides both an outline for an American cultural order and a statement of his own literary ideals. He discusses the impact of westward expansion on the American character while condemned the corruption and greed of the Gilded Age. He writes: “Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us.”
His solution to the moral crisis is literature: “Two or three really original American poets…would give more compaction and more moral identity, (the quality to-day most needed) to these States, than all its Constitutions, legislative and judicial ties,” he declared, believing that literature would unite the country. “Never was anything more wanted than, to-day, and here in The States, the Poet of the Modern is wanted, or the great Literatus of the Modern.”