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Michael Robertson: Worshipping Walt

Michael Robertson: Worshipping Walt

The Whitman Disciples. USA 2008, 350 pp., hardbound,  22.20
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The University Press Group
Despite his protests, Anne Gilchrist, distinguished woman of letters, moved her entire household from London to Philadelphia in an effort to marry him. John Addington Symonds, historian and theorist of sexual inversion, sent him avid fan mail for 20 years. And volunteer assistant Horace Traubel kept a record of their daily conversations, producing a 9 volume compilation. Who could inspire so muchdevotion? This book focuses on the Whitman disciples - a fascinating, eclectic group of 19th-century men and women who regarded Walt Whitman not simply as a poet but as a religious prophet. Long before Whitman was established in the canon of American poetry, feminists, socialists, spiritual seekers, and supporters of same-sex passion saw him as an enlightened figure who fulfilled their yearnings. To his disciples he was variously an ideal husband, radical lover, socialist icon, or bohemian saint.
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