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自考《英美文学选读》(美)浪漫主义时期(4)

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  IV. Walt Whitman

  Whitman is a giant of American letters. His Leaves of Grass has always been considered a monumental work which commands great attention because of its uniquely poetic embodiment of American democratic ideals. He is the poet of the common people and the prophet and singer of democracy.

  一。一般识记

  Whitman's life

  He was born in 1819 into a working-c1ass family and grew up in Brook1yn, New York. Son of a carpenter, Whitman left his schooling for good at eleven, and became an office boy. Later on he changed several jobs, one of which was in the printing office of a newspaper, which would be of great he1p in his literary career. By this early age he had a1ready shown his strong love for literature, reading a great deal on his own, especially the works of Shakespeare and Milton, and developed his potential for the writing career in the future. Before he was 17 years o1d he had already had his poems printed on a paper, although these early works were not comparable to his later and mature ones. However, Whitman did not become a professional writer directly henceforth, until an opportunity came up which sent him back to New York City, where he formal1y took up journalism and indulged himself in the excitement of the fast-growing metropolis. Feeling compe1led to speak up for something new and vital he found in the air of the nation, Whitman turned to the manual work of carpentry around 1851 or 1852, as an experiment to familiarize himself with the reality and essence of the life of the nation. At the same time, he widened his reading to a new scale and made it more systematic. After enriching himself simultaneously by these two very different, approaches, Whitman was ab1e to put forward his own set of aesthetic princip1es. Leaves of Grass was just the expression of these principles.

  二。识记

  Whitman's democratic ideals

  Whitman's democratic ideas govern his poetry-writing. In his famous poetry, openness, freedom, and above all, individua1ism (the belief that the rights and freedom of individual people are most important) are all that concerned him. Whitman brings the hard-working farmers and laborers into American literature ,attack the slavery system and racial discrimination. In this book he also extols nature ,democracy, labor and creation ,and sings of man's dignity and equality, and of the brightest future of mankind

  Whitman believed that poetry could play a vita1 part in the process of creating a new nation. It could enab1e Americans to celebrate their release from the Old World and the colonia1 rule. And it could also help them understand their new status and to define themse1ves in the new wor1d of possibi1ities.

  三。领会

  1. The themes in Whitman's poetry:

  His poetry is filled with optimistic expectation and enthusiasm about new things and new epoch.

  Whitman believed that poetry could play a vita1 part in the process of creating a new nation. It could enab1e Americans to celebrate their release from the Old World and the colonia1 rule. And it could also help them understand their new status and to define themse1ves in the new wor1d of possibi1ities. Hence, the abundance of themes in his poetry voices freshness.

  (1) He shows concern for the whole hard-working people and the burgeoning life of cities. To Whitman, the fast growth of industry and wealth in cities indicated a lively future of the nation, despite the crowded, noisy, and squalid conditions and the slackness in morality.

  (2) He advocates the realization of the individua1 value. Most of the poems in Leaves of Grass sing of the "en-masse" and the self as well.

  (3) Pursuit of love and happiness is approved of repeatedly and affectionately in his lines. Sexual 1ove, a rather taboo topic of the time, is displayed candidly as something adorable. The individual person and his desires must be respected.

  (4) Some of Whitman's poems are politically committed. Before and during the Civil War, Whitman expressed much mourning for the sufferings of the young lives in the battlefield and showed a determination to carry on the fighting dauntlessly until the final victory, as in poems like "Cavalry Crossing a Ford." Later, he wrote down a great many poems to air his sorrow over the death of Lincoln, and one of the famous is "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd."

  2.Leaves of Grass

  Walt Whitman is a poet with a strong sense of mission, having devoted all his life to the creation of the "single" poem, Leaves of Grass.

  (1) the title :It is significant that Whitman entitled his book Leaves of Grass . He said that where there is earth, where there is water, there is grass. Grass, the most common thing with the greatest vitality, is an image of the poet himself, a symbol of the then rising American nation and an embodiment of his ideals about democracy and freedom.

  (2) theme and the poet's essentia1 purpose

  (a) theme:


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