Rotten Reviews: Walt Whitman

Mr. Whitman’s attitude seems monstrous. It is monstrous because it pretends to persuade the soul while it slights the intellect; because it pretends to gratify the feelings while it outrages the taste…Our hearts are often touched through a compromise with the artistic sense but never in direct violation of it.”

Henry James, The Nation

“Incapable of true poetical originality, Whitman had the cleverness to invent a literary trick, and the shrewdness to stick to it.”

Peter Bayne, Contemporary Review, 1875

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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