Whitman and the ‘Lawless Music’ of American Culture

Günter Leypoldt

in Cultural Authority in the Age of Whitman

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748635740
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651658 | DOI:
Whitman and the ‘Lawless Music’ of American Culture

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This introductory chapter discusses Walt Whitman and his ‘lawless music’. This musical trope is considered significant because it relates a ‘pure’ aesthetic form to a political practice. This implies that Whitmanian poetry not only talks about democratic issues, but that it also transforms the essence of democracy. The chapter furthermore looks at the American-Renaissance construction, Whitman's cultural parallelisms, and the division between Whitman and the poets of gentility.

Keywords: Walt Whitman; lawless music; musical trope; aesthetic form; Whitmanian poetry; democratic issues; essence of democracy; American-Renaissance construction; cultural parallelisms; poets of gentility

Chapter.  4826 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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