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Laws for Creations

Paperback : 208 pages
Published by Picador
May, 2006

In Walt Whitman, Michael Cunningham sees a poet whose vision of humanity is ecstatic, democratic, and sensuous. Just over a hundred years ago, Whitman celebrated America as it survived the Civil War, as it endured great poverty, and as it entered the Industrial Revolution, which would make it the most powerful nation on Earth. In Specimen Days Michael Cunningham makes Whitman's verse sing across time, and in Laws for Creations he celebrates what Whitman means to him, and how he appeared at the heart of his new novel.

Just as the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours drew on the life and work of English novelist Viriginia Woolf, Specimen Days lovingly features the work of American poet Walt Whitman. Bringing together extracts from Whitman's prodigious writings, including Leaves of Grass and his journal, Specimen Days, Michael Cunningham's Laws for Creations provides an introduction to one of America's greatest visionary poets from one of our greatest contemporary novelists.

Reviews for Laws for Creations:
Publishers Weekly:
"As the life and writing of Virginia Woolf was the inspiration for Cunningham's The Hours, Walt Whitman, is at the heart of his latest, Specimen Days: he appears as a bearded old man walking on Broadway, and his poetry is read and scrawled on the walls by characters. Cunningham now offers his own selection of Whitman's work—poetry from the first and last editions of Leaves of Grass and prose from Whitman's Specimen Days (from which Cunningham takes the title of his novel) and Collect. Cunningham calls this collection a 'quirky and personal' introduction to Whitman, meant to present his sensuous and democratic celebration of the nation and its inhabitants (and to explain his significance in Cunningham's novel). Inclusion of the untitled first-published version of 'Song of Myself' and Whitman's less-studied prose will interest those more familiar with his work, and Cunningham's unique presentation of Whitman's writings—both his own esoteric favorites and the poet's most famous poems—will entice newcomers."