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THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
March 1 – 5, 2013 (4 nights)
Drum-Taps by Walt Whitman
Mary Chesnut’s Diary by Mary Boykin Chesnut
What is it that draws so many people to study the American Civil War, visit its battlefields, revere its generals as some of America's greatest heroes? What if it was the quality of the literature written during and after the war that created this reverence, this sense of tragic poetry that seems to surround the era like an atmosphere? After all, this was a time when even the generals and the presidents were extraordinary writers. One of America's greatest poets, Walt Whitman, was there. He was a pacifist deeply moved by the suffering of the soldiers.
We will read his collection of poems called Drum Taps, which describes his volunteer nursing in the Union hospitals of Maryland. We will also read Mary Boykin Chesnut's Diary, widely considered by historians to be one of the most important documents written about the war by a Southerner, and about which Edmund Wilson wrote that it was a “'work of art—informal department or not.” Both of these brilliant writers were not only participants in the war on different sides but also critical and humane observers of their own cultures. Chesnut lived in Richmond during the war and provides a window on the social life among the elites of her time. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and preserves much of the history of the South during the Civil War as well as its magnolia-lined antebellum avenues. We will stay in the Jefferson Hotel, which, since 1895, has been recognized as Richmond's grandest hotel and one of the finest in America.
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The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond
The guns did sound very near...I confess I lost my head.
So I burned a part of my journal but rewrote it afterward
from memory--my implacable enemy that lets me
forget none of the things I would.“
- Mary Chesnut
"The real war will never get in the books."
- Walt Whitman
Rosemary Gould lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she leads discussions of poetry for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She believes that everyone can learn to love poetry once they unlearn the artificial methods of analysis they were taught in school. Walt Whitman was also someone who believed that poetry belonged to everyone, as a birthright, and wrote in such a way as to communicate with any reader without sacrificing depth or beauty. On this trip she hopes to discover, together with other non-partisans, what it is about the human experience of war that we find so compelling.
USD $1995 per person based on double occupancy
Fee includes books, accommodation based on double occupancy, two meals a day, discussions, tours, excursions and admissions.