Years ago, a congress took place in Pittsburgh, a panel on relations between South American and American literature. One of the works that was very conventional by the way was Whitman. This reading provoked a debate with much public intervention, a debate that to me was one of the tops of interest for the experience, as it was an excellent summary of the value of the author's poetry for modern literature. In the university classroom, we all knew that: using a very Whitmanian metaphor, Leaves of Grass, Whitman's most recognized book, was a rock in the literature and its waves reached far, far away. In Buenos Aires, he reached both Jorge Luis Borges (in conservative Florida) and Roberto Arlt (in the progressive Boedo). It was the purpose of the debate promoted by an American professor specializing in Argentine literature: how is Whitman likely to affect both conservative and leftistists; What characteristics of his poetry allowed it?
Walt Whitman broke deeply the poetic rules of his time. It is sensible that one of the critics wrote at that time, which can be read in a very funny book called The Critical Eye, about grassblade "Mr. Whitman feels poetry as much as a math dope." The poetry of that volume is so high that it made the writer crazy in the eyes of his contemporaries and necessities for the twenty-first twenty centuries. Which grass leaves that came to the literary language had to do with both the poetic material (which Whitman expanded greatly) and with the resources, the forms. The resources fall in love with that lover in the manner of Borges where; and the revolutionary poetic matter of a revolutionary like Roberto Arlt.
It is under the light of the huge poetry that reads Jack Engle's life and adventure in the excellent translation of Pablo Ingberg. And because Whitman's poetry lies in the minds of those reading the book, reading is always double: a constant comparison between the prose and the blade's grass. This type of approach is the first to pay attention to the prose's orthodoxy. It is a novel from the 1
Among many other interventions, this voice helps its readers with indications of time: "This chapter is for retroactive reasons," he says, for example. Handling readers on issues that are currently understood without great explanation lead to interesting reflections on how during the twenty-first twenty-first century science and some forms of contemporary art changed, the cinema mainly not only the writing but also the readability, the readers' horizons of expectations " , as Gombrich says. The question would be: why Whitman, whose innovations left most readers behind, so much that many considered him as a "monkey" did not dare to do the same in prose?
Life and adventure have some of Dick's novels of poverty and social ascension (Ingberg clearly marks the proletariat) and also partially repeats Spanish picaresque gestures: it explains the narrator's current happiness, like before he was a trampled stomp but it is true that In this case, most of the story happens when the character has already improved its party in society. In addition to its autobiographical features, in the United States, this story of economic success is a version of the American dream, according to which someone can switch from poverty to power. For that reason, although the "good" disapproves of it and criticizes greed in the "bad", money is at the center of much of what is happening in the book. And binary manichaeism (good to bad, wealthy to the poor) is also typical of the American literature of the Weps (Protestant Angelsaxian White), that is, the group that had power in the nineteenth (and of course it follows in xx and especially in xxi, if you think of the current president).
The book is orthodox yes, but there is no doubt that it is from Walt Whitman. In the descriptive passages (for example, each time the river is described in New York) one can track the sonorous, baroque and powerful language recognized by all readers of grass blades: long sentences, passions for adjectives, enumerations and the hard joy that characterizes "Canto Sobre my difference ", his most famous poem.
And, on the other hand, Whitman, who is not formally played, is Whitman: his ideas coincide politically and socially with those men who at that moment write poetry of Gale that would be grassblade for the world. When you read Jack Engle's life and adventure, published in six installments on Sunday Dispatch, it's impossible not to imagine Walt, the son of the carpenter, in a double task: while writing a novel that gives him some money, he shakes Lethargy of Poetry pacata and lasts its time with poems invigorating another universe. But the same as Melville does: he publishes a series of pretty orthodox books and then, suddenly, Moby Dick, the critics defenestraron immediately. Democracy, the center of joy and the "Canto Sobre Mime" music are very present in the description of poor children and their terrible unmet needs, in folkloric notes related to the people and in all reflections that you make on philosophical topics like death and happiness.
Yes, even in prose, Whitman Whitman is a poet of the people (though his people did not understand him as a poet). In life and adventure, many of the characters are counterparts of the upper classes who prefer to paint writers like Henry James. Yes, here too, Whitman is a poet of democracy, equality, embrace of all that exists.