posted on 2024-02-09, 15:07authored byF. W. Dobbs-Allsopp
In exploring the seminal works of Walt Whitman, the great American poet, many commentators have acknowledged the underlying influence of The King James Bible. However, a study has yet to elucidate the precise manner in which the Bible has shaped Whitman’s poetic style.
This is the deficit that F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp seeks to address in his new piece of literary scholarship: 'Divine Style: Walt Whitman and the King James Bible'. Dobbs-Allsopp, Professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, explicitly approaches Whitman from the perspective of a biblical scholar.
Utilising his wealth of expertise in this field, he constructs a compelling, erudite and methodical argument for the King James Bible’s importance in the evolution of Whitman’s style – from his signature long lines to the prevalence of parallelism and tendency towards parataxis in his works.
'Divine Style' focuses on Whitman’s output in the years preceding the release of his 1855 opus 'Leaves of Grass' through the general period of the book’s first three editions. In this, Dobbs-Allsopp’s exploration of the period is exhaustive – covering not just Leaves of Grass but recently recovered notebooks, newly digitised manuscripts and additions to the corpus, such as the novel 'Life and Adventures of Jack Engle'.
This is a work of careful, detailed scholarship, offering an authoritative commentary that will be a valuable resource for students of Whitman, biblical scholars and scholars of literature more generally.