Walt Whitman on autobiography

 

 

“What a gain it would be, if we could forgo some of the heavy tomes, the fruit of an age of toil and scientific study, for the simple easy truthful narrative of the existence and experience of a man of genius,—how his mind unfolded in his earliest years—the impressions things made upon him—how and where and when the religious sentiment dawned in him—what he thought of God before he was inoculated with books’ ideas—the development of his soul—when he first loved—the way circumstance imbued his nature, and did him good, or worked him ill—with the long train of occurrences, adventures, mental processes, exercises within, and trials without, which go to make up the man—for character is the man, after all.”

 

 

— Walt Whitman, review of The Autobiography of Goethe, Truth and Poetry: From My Life, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 28, 1847

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