Email Rachel Kramer Bussel has written about hoarding before. How many books does a person have to own to officially be labeled a book hoarder? Nothing brought this home for me like watching paid professionals cart away hundreds of books—read and unread, purchased lovingly or attained at book parties or conferences—when I hired a trash removal service last year upon moving from my two-bedroom apartment after 13 years. This was reinforced when I moved again this year, and was told by the movers, multiple times, that my boxes of books, rather than furniture like a bed and a couch, was what was weighing down their truck.
Everyone knows Whitman as a poet and the author of one of the most studied books of American poetry, Leaves of Grass.
What is less well known is that Whitman was trained as a printer and throughout his life spent time in printing shops and binderies, often setting type himself and always intimately involved in the design and production of his books.
Whitman did not just write his book, he made his book, and he made it over and over again, each time producing a different material object that spoke to its readers in different ways. No nineteenth-century American author was more involved in the range of actual activities of bookmaking than Whitman.
He became a journeyman printer in Manhattan in the mids while still a teenager. In the early s, while writing Leaves of Grass, he ran a job-printing office and became close friends with Brooklyn printers, including some young brothers who had emigrated from Scotland and now ran a small job printing shop on Fulton Street, where Whitman would print the first edition of his book.
The first edition of Leaves of Grass was self-published, and Whitman designed the binding, chose the typeface, designed the pages, worked with an engraver on the frontispiece, and even set some of the type himself.
Throughout his life, Whitman retained an intimate association with the publishers of his books, worrying over the tiniest physical details. When he would write a poem, he often took the manuscript to typesetter-friends to have the draft set in type or sometimes do the typesetting himselfthen would make his revisions on the proof sheets: So he designed and helped set type for the first edition—sitting in the printing shop while the book was being printed, reading proof, and making changes literally as the book was in press—and then designed his second edition ; when in he got a contract from a Boston publisher for the third edition of Leaves, he immediately left for Boston to oversee the production, sitting for weeks with the typesetters, carefully selecting the wildly divergent typefaces, designing the enigmatic decorations, and choosing the binding.
Whitman actually considered himself a bookmaker more than an author. Leaves of Grass ultimately went through six entirely different editions, and each edition had multiple issues, often with different bindings, different paper size, different cover designs, and different configurations of contents.
Whitman was always experimenting with the physical appearance of his book, and his changes reflect his evolving notions of what role his writing would play in the emerging American democracy. Major historical events like the Civil War and Reconstruction had a visible effect on the physical makeup of his books.
When he published his Civil War poems in a separate book called Drum-Taps, for example, he constructed that book during a time of paper shortage, and the very composition of the pages reflects his desire to use every inch of space, leading to an arrangement of poems that has often been read thematically but may in fact have been coerced spatially, a book of war poems rationed so as to conserve paper and space.
After the war, as Whitman tried to figure out how to absorb his Civil War poems into Leaves of Grass, he began by constructing an edition in in which he literally sewed the pages of the unbound copies of Drum-Taps into the back of the newly printed Leaves.
This was the beginning of a long process of post-war reconstruction of Leaves that mirrors the Reconstruction of the nation that was occurring at the same time. Some of the copies of the edition contain Drum-Taps while others do not; the bindings change, too, and this fluidity reflects his indecision over whether Leaves of Grass, which originally set out to celebrate the unity of the United States, could properly contain poems chronicling the divisive war between the states.
This is just one small example of the hundreds of changes Whitman made to his books as he designed and re-designed them, altered the arrangement and number of poems, shifted titles and typefaces, and kept Leaves of Grass a shifting series of quite different texts—each one responding to a particular biographical and cultural moment—instead of a single book.
This evolution of one of the most important texts in American literature has, remarkably, never been examined in detail, in part because of the difficulty of gathering all the variations of the book in one place. The intimate connection between Whitman and printing is on full display here, from Whitman making books to the books that continue to make Whitman and his reputation.
The Books Whitman Made Inonly five years before Leaves of Grass appeared, Whitman was known only as a printer, journalist, and writer of short stories and sketches.
Brenton, owner of the Long Island Democrat, a newspaper on which Whitman had worked, put together a book in that collected what he called "sketches, essays, and poems by practical printers. Inonly five years before publishing Leaves of Grass, a book that would forever change American literature, Whitman was still very much seen as just a "practical printer.
Late in his life, Whitman was visited by two college students from Trenton, New Jersey, who asked him for advice for young writers. The poet answered, "Whack away at everything pertaining to literary life—mechanical part as well as the rest.Introduction Though perhaps best known throughout the world for his science fiction, Isaac Asimov was also regarded as one of the great explainers of science.
Reprint of Edition.
Full facsimile of the original edition, not reproduced with Optical Recognition Software. One of Collingwood's finest works, "Essay on Metaphysics" considers the nature of philosophy, and puts forward Collingwood's original and influential theories of causation, presuppositions, and the logic of question and answer.
It’s been many years since Henry Rollins had his essay Iron and the Soul published in Details magazine (). I’ve read through the essay several times over the years.
It never gets old and is like a treasure chest filled with quotes. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and Rooney Mara as his girlfriend Erica in The Social Network. How long is a generation these days? I must be in Mark Zuckerberg’s generation—there are only nine years between us—but somehow it doesn’t feel that way.
“Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you. We have lost. We have lost, and this is the last day of my political career, so I will say what must be said. We are standing at the edge of the abyss.
Our political system, our society, our country itself are in greater danger than at any time in the.
Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and Rooney Mara as his girlfriend Erica in The Social Network. How long is a generation these days? I must be in Mark Zuckerberg’s generation—there are only nine years between us—but somehow it doesn’t feel that way.