Camille Paglia on Walt Whitman

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Infamous and lionized. That's how literary critic and provocateur Camille Paglia describes the supreme poet of American romanticism, Walt Whitman.

It could describe Paglia, too. For twenty years, she's been shaking up the literary world with her wickedly sharp words and ways.

A year ago, she came out with a zinging collection of essays on great poems. At the heart of it, Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" - the great rhapsody to freedom.

"I speak the password primeval," he wrote. "I give the sign of democracy." It was revolutionary a hundred and fifty years ago. On Point looks at how it lights up Americans' understanding of what freedom means today.

Hear critic Camille Paglia discuss Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself."


Camille Paglia, one of America's foremost cultural and social critics. She is professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and author of "Sexual Personae: Arts & Decadence from Nerfertiti to Emily Dickinson," "Sex, Art, and American Culture" and "Vamps and Tramps." Her book "Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems" just came out in paperback.

This program aired on March 1, 2006.


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