a disappointing review of two lost Whitman works




“Two New Old Books That Show Walt Whitman’s Different Selves”

New York Times Book Review

August 30, 2017




hi, Zack —


This review by Ted Genoways  is okay, but nothing more. Why did it take the NYTBR so long to review [two hitherto lost works by Walt Whitman] “The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle” and “Manly Health and Training”?

I thoroughly disagree with James McWilliams (“Against Rediscovery: Why the ‘Lost Novel’ Phenomenon Hurts Readers,” Paris Review, May 22, 2017). In the case of a Whitman or James Joyce, the discovery of a lost work or fragment, or of a lost letter, is cause for rejoicing.

I also feel that Genoways gives Whitman’s lost works “Jack Engle” and “Manly Health and Training,” which you have unearthed — remarkably — shorter shrift than they deserve.


Best wishes,

Roger Smith


— email to Zachary Turpin, September 3, 2017

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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3 Responses to a disappointing review of two lost Whitman works

  1. Tom Riggio says:

    Agree on all counts.

  2. Glad (but not surprised) that you read the
    review, Tom, and that you agree with me.

  3. How about the discovery and publication of Dreiser’s “An Amateur Laborer,” a book
    I couldn’t put down?

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