The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World - Part II, Chapter 9: “A Draft of Whitman” Summary & Analysis

Lewis Hyde
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Summary

In this chapter, Hyde engages in close readings of Whitman’s work, namely, Leaves of Grass, as means of demonstrating how Whitman is a paradigmatic example of an artist who treats his work as a gift. In his “Song of Myself,” for example, Whitman, on Hyde’s readings, addresses his own soul as the mysterious source from which his artistic talents emerge. In this work, gift exchange is taken to be a type of erotic commerce that joins the self with its others so that they can participate in “the underlying unity of things” (212).

Hyde draws particular attention to the images of breathing present in Whitman’s work, and takes each instance to be a microcosm of the gift economy. For Whitman, the self is compared to a type of lung that inhales and exhales the world. Hyde...

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This section contains 958 words
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Buy The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World Study Guide
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