Now the fatigued writer of these blogs is to explore the style of Walt Whitman, and give reasons for why he really has his own genre in American literature. While Whitman's work is a wonderful source of things to talk about, it shortly becomes old when the philosophical side of his poetry is ignored. Even so, some people think putting authors in their particular group is important, and that opinion demands respect no matter how foolish it is.
The poetry of Walt Whitman falls somewhere between the Realism and the Modernism period according to some people who think they know something about the literary arts. These people would define Realism as the attempt to portray life as it is in literature (Werlock "Realism"). The good, the bad, and the pratical, so to speak. They would define Modernism, the literary period that followed it, as literature focusing on individuals being lost in the world that they find themselves without a place in due to the changes of society (Werlock "Modernism").
It is really apparent that Walt Whitam came no where near fitting in to the Realism catagory, and from reading his poetry one can easily infer that he would not want to. He saw the reality of life as wonderful and beautiful, even the sadder parts of it. There was no such thing as pratical. The things most people would consider pratical, Whitman considered a useless waste of time. Instead of working and making social connections in high places, he wrote about wandering about in nature and drifting from place to place (Whitman). He rejected social rules in every form, and sought only to be his self. The realist crowd would certainly have had a difficult time with him in their midst.
As poorly as he fits into the Realist camp, he fits only a little better into the Modernist group. He shares with them the appreciation of the free will of individualism, and likewise rejects with them the notion of one supreme God. However, the point of the Modernist literature was to represent the horrible decadence they thought people had fallen into (Werlock "Modernism"). Whitman could not have been more different. He saw even the lowest members of American society as some of the highest and best people in the world. With such opinions, what could one possible want to change? Many Modernist writers sought government enforcement of what they thought was right, like the Socialism promoted by writer Upton Sinclare in his novel, The Jungle, for instance. Whitman was a big fan of individual freedom, and government intrusion on it would not have gone over well with him. He wrote entire epic poems about how beautiful the average American was, and about how beautiful the freedom of this country is.
To conclude, Whitman fit into neither group at all, and to say that he fit in between them is equally rediculous. If anything, he was similar to the Transcendentalists, considering his love of nature and rejection of governments. Even then he was certainly his own writer.
Werlock, Abby H. P. "modernism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CASS589&SingleRecord=True.
Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 12 Mar. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gamshrtsty0575&SingleRecord=True.
Whitman, Walt. "Contents. Whitman, Walt. 1900. Leaves of Grass." Bartleby.com: Great Books Online. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.