By Catherine Kunce
The eighty-one manuscript letters, drafts, notes, and fragments comprising the correspondence among Sarah Helen Whitman (Poe’s onetime fiancée) and Julia Deane Freeman span a tumultuous time in American background, 1856–1863. A veritable Who’s Who in literature through the interval, the women’s letters reference works and writers corresponding to Emerson, Hawthorne, Poe, Walt Whitman, and rankings of girls writers resembling Margaret Fuller, Paulina Davis, Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Susan Warner, Julia Ward Howe, and E.D.E.N. Southworth, and their works. evaluating favorite publishers, critiquing recognized newshounds, discussing present events—including the approaching Civil struggle, slavery, the unfold of Spiritualism, the emerging cognizance of women’s rights, and the present tastes in theater, tune, and art—the correspondence exposes an untapped vein of old riches.
Yet the letters supply greater than a compendium of literary works and historic occasions. while seen throughout the lens of latest severe theories, the letters shimmer with value. The Whitman/Freeman correspondence witnesses the expansion of a profound friendship, the genesis and improvement of which parallels, to a startling measure, Whitman’s affair with Poe. The letters also aid, and in a few circumstances, complicate, modern students’ views concerning matters with regards to girls. whereas students have rescued many nineteenth-century ladies writers from unmerited obscurity, Whitman and Freeman recount in “real time” their review of latest girls writers.
A well-informed abolitionist who bequeathed a section of her property to a black orphanage, Whitman has a lot to claim approximately political viewpoints, either nationwide and native, in the course of a time that denied girls the precise to vote. How Whitman negotiates society’s strictures and her iconoclastic self-expression merits cautious research in itself. good crafted and carefully attractive, the formerly unpublished correspondence among Sarah Helen Whitman and Julia Deane Freeman offers students of diverse disciplines with clean and engaging fabric.