A 36-second wax cylinder recording of what is thought to be Walt Whitman’s voice reading four lines from the poem “America.” [MP3]
As the sky lights up over Hometown U.S.A. tonight, let’s remember that today’s also the anniversary of two literary masterpieces of proto-freak culture. In 1855, Walt Whitman had 800 copies of his Leaves of Grass pressed by the Scottish-born Rome brothers at their Fulton St. shop in Brooklyn.
The Wikipedia oracle notes that Walt was definitely considered an original dangerous mind:
When the book was first published, Whitman was fired from his job at the Department of the Interior after Secretary of the Interior James Harlan read it and said he found it very offensive. Poet John Greenleaf Whittier was said to have thrown his 1855 edition into the fire. Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote, “It is no discredit to Walt Whitman that he wrote ‘Leaves of Grass,’ only that he did not burn it afterwards.” Critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold reviewed Leaves of Grass in the November 10, 1855, issue of The Criterion, calling it “a mass of stupid filth” and categorized its author as a filthy free lover. Griswold also suggested, in Latin, that Whitman was guilty of “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”, one of the earliest public accusations of Whitman’s homosexuality. Griswold’s intensely negative review almost caused the publication of the second edition to be suspended. Whitman included the full review, including the innuendo, in a later edition of Leaves of Grass.
Seven years later to the day, math teacher Charles Dodgson and a friend took the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Dean of the Christ Church College where Dodgson taught math) on a short rowboat trip. Dodgson published the surrealist story he aimed at Liddell’s middle daughter Alice as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the name Lewis Carroll on July 4 1865.
Without forgetting Robert Cauble’s fantastic depiction of Alice’s search for Guy Debord, below are some amazing film interpretations of Alice: