Sunday, April 8, 2012

Civil War Discussion - Whitman's Journals

March 28 saw the continuation of the Civil War discussion group, with Sir JJ Drinkwater...

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…and Dame Kghia Gherardi (and me, of course).

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The event was listed in the SL directory of events, on the splash screen of the official SL viewer, which brought a number of first-time attendees, including (shown below) Miss Luna (with the claws), Miss Kate Hershey, and Miss Roxie Marten.

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Others in attendance were Mr. Bruce Mowbray, Miss Marcella Kozlov, Mr. Crassvs, and Mr. Goblin Crosby.

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The text for the evening's discussion was three brief essays from Whitman's Specimen Days, which is described as follows:

Specimen Days first appeared in 1882 within a volume entitled Specimen Days & Collect, published by Rees Welsh and Company in Philadelphia. Composed in 1881 largely out of notes, sketches, and essays written at various stages of the poet's life from the Civil War on, it is the closest thing to a conventional autobiography Whitman ever published.

The largest and arguably the most important work of Whitman's old age (except for the reordering of Leaves of Grass during the same period), the book deserves attention as more than a source of information or for its moving descriptions of the poet's experiences in the Civil War, which have in the past been the chief sources of its interest to scholars. The book attempts to link Whitman's life history to national and natural history while presenting itself as the casual reminiscence of a man approaching death. It therefore resembles what students of aging term "life review."

The three essays, "Union Prisoners South," "Deserters," and "A Glimpse of War's Hell-Scenes," reflect some of the brutality and inhumanity of the war, and perhaps a diminution of Whitman's celebration of the potential of America that came through Leaves of Grass.

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