Home  »  Volume XVI: American EARLY NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART II LATER NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART I  »  § 15. Specimen Days and Collect; November Boughs

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

I. Whitman

§ 15. Specimen Days and Collect; November Boughs

This period, the final act of Whitman’s unique life, was naturally not a climax of achievement, though it was a severe test of his patience and optimism, a test which, on the whole, he stood with unassuming courage. He sent forth occasional contributions to various American and British magazines and newspapers, besides new editions of his works. The most notable of these latter was the autographed Centennial or Author’s Edition in two volumes of prose and verse (1876), designed to be sold in England, his best market, in order to relieve the straitened circumstances of the author, who was then “paralyzed … poor … expecting death,” and who had been fleeced by his New York publishers; Specimen Days and Collect (1882–3), a “diary of an invalid,” which contains some of Whitman’s most characteristic prose and is a storehouse of autobiographical data; and November Boughs (1888), containing reprints of short poems that Whitman had been writing regularly for the New York Herald and of miscellaneous prose essays that had appeared elsewhere, the most significant of these being A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads.