Whitman Reviews III
"A Strange Blade." Punch Magazine (26 April 1856)"
I found this article particularly interesting, because it revealed a trend which I have noticed in many contemporary magazines to have a larger tradition than i would have thought. I refer to persistent supercilious bitchiness which seems to be mistaken for a critically engaging denouncement of art and artifice. The author writes "We can only say that these Leaves of Grass are fully worthy to be put on a level with that heap of rubbish called Fern Leaves, by FANNY FERN, and similarly "green stuff." The fields of American literature want weeding dreadfully." Aside from the substandard punnery, the article does not engage with the poem in the slightest. It therefore comes across as very egotistical, that the author castigates the poem with no recourse to the poem itself. He says it is bad, not why it is bad, and therefore assumes the authority of his opinion. We have all encountered writing of this kind, normally in the pages of sensationalist tabloid magazines, so it is interesting to see it being applied to a canonical work of literature. Of course the author is entitled to his opinion, but it seems ill-informed, ill-thought out, ill-considered.