Democratic Vistas

by Walt Whitman

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 130

Walt Whitman's Democratic Vistas (published in 1871) are materialism, individualism, and literature. Whitman's prose piece praises American material success and claims that the Industrial Revolution wrought havoc on American culture, which was destroyed during the Gilded Age. People who focused too much on material gain have had their creativity compromised. Individuality, according to Whitman, is sprung from creativity.

To correct this moral degeneration (which is not depravity so much as a lack of culture), Whitman explains that learning should be available to the masses, and creativity instilled in everyone, primarily by means of literature.

Poetry, according to Whitman, is able to give a culture sophistication and depth to transcend materialism. Literature in general will allow people to re-connect with nature and achieve transcendent values in the face of the industrial society.

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