Collage of Myself


Collage of Myself

Walt Whitman and the Making of Leaves of Grass

Matt Miller

320 pages
21 illustrations


December 2010


$45.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

December 2010


$45.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Collage of Myself presents a groundbreaking account of the creative story behind America’s most celebrated collection of poems. In the first book-length study of Walt Whitman’s journals and manuscripts, Matt Miller demonstrates that until approximately 1854 (only a single year before the first publication of Leaves of Grass), Whitman—who once speculated that Leaves would be a novel or a play—was unaware that his ambitions would assume the form of poetry at all.
Collage of Myself details Whitman’s discovery of a remarkable new creative process that allowed him to transform a diverse array of texts into poems such as “Song of Myself” and “The Sleepers.” Whitman embraced an art of fragments that encouraged him to “cut and paste” his lines into ever-evolving forms based on what he called “spinal ideas.” This approach to language, Miller argues, represents the first major use in the Western arts of the technique later known as collage, an observation with significant ramifications for our reception of subsequent artists and writers. Long before the modernists, Whitman integrated found text and ready-made language into a revolutionary formulation of artistic production that anticipates much of what is exciting about modern and postmodern art.
Using the Walt Whitman Archive’s collection of digital images to study what were previously scattered and inaccessible manuscript pages, Miller provides a breakthrough in our understanding of this great American literary icon.

Author Bio

Matt Miller is an assistant professor of English at Yeshiva University. His articles have appeared in Arizona Quarterly, Book History, and Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.


"This is an important study, one requiring that the reader rethink a number of commonly held assumptions about Whitman and his Leaves of Grass ."—D. D. Kummings, Choice

"Miller's book is as valuable a publication on Whitman’s poetry as any to have appeared for some time."—M. Wynn Thomas, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations   000

Acknowledgments   000

Introduction      000

List of Abbreviations   000

1. How Whitman Used His Early Notebooks   000

2. Packing and Unpacking the First Leaves of Grass    000

3. Kosmos Poets and Spinal Ideas    000

4. Poems of Materials   000

5. Whitman after Collage / Collage after Whitman      000

Notes 000

Bibliography      000

Index 000

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