Towards Democracy

Read by Sue Anderson

(4 stars; 3 reviews)

“Civilization sinks and swims, but the old facts remain—the sun smiles, knowing well its strength.” Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) wrote his prose poem, Towards Democracy, styled after Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, in a summer burst of creativity. “Early in 1881, no doubt as the culmination and result of struggles and experiences that had been going on, I became conscious that a mass of material was forming within me, imperatively demanding expression . . .” An English intellectual, Carpenter was in rebellion against Victorian prudery. Railing against Industrialization’s dehumanization, he preached a return to a simple life in harmony with Nature. Towards Democracy reads like Beat poetry—wild flowing word associations, moments of insight so clear they hurt, interspersed with pure rant! Included is an essay Carpenter wrote in 1894 explaining his intent and feelings in writing Towards Democracy. - Summary by Sue Anderson (3 hr 55 min)


Preface: A Note on Towards Democracy 21:50 Read by Sue Anderson
I - IX 27:17 Read by Sue Anderson
X - XVI 23:20 Read by Sue Anderson
XVII - XXIV 17:10 Read by Sue Anderson
XXV - XXXI 18:28 Read by Sue Anderson
XXXII - XXXVI 14:52 Read by Sue Anderson
XXXVII - XL 22:43 Read by Sue Anderson
XLI - XLVI 15:51 Read by Sue Anderson
XLVII - LI 17:56 Read by Sue Anderson
LII - LV 17:16 Read by Sue Anderson
LVI - LX 13:36 Read by Sue Anderson
LXI - LXV 14:10 Read by Sue Anderson
LXVI - LXX 10:37 Read by Sue Anderson


A fine text, quite dry reading

(3 stars)

A fantastic, queer, and often intoxicating long poem. Greatly in tune with Whitman, more than the Preface concedes (which in itself is worth study), but in many ways going far beyond what Whitman achieved, reaching out more effectively to less masculine bodies (at the same time as yearning for thr epitome of rural masculinity as a loving&lovable body). S. Anderson's reading is fair, measured, and never hyperbolic (which would send parts of the poem into parody, so grandly does it soar), but I think such a piece could do with rather more enthusiasm here and there, and a little more tenderness elsewhere (for instance, during the beautiful passage of the mother, wishing for transparency so that sun- and moon-light might shine on the unborn child).