Thought you’d read all of the Walt Whitman the world had to offer? Well, that’s no longer the case. Earlier this year, a University of Houston grad student by the name of Zachary Turpin inadvertently discovered a novella by the poet.
While the novella was published in full online by the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and has been released as a book, Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm will be narrating the audiobook. It also includes an afterword that will be read by Turpin, who served as a consultant regarding historical pronunciations. An audiobook veteran, Hamm said of the project, “I had been a fan of Whitman’s work, so it was an easy choice for me. And this is a lost work. It’s exciting to read something new by someone who’s been dead for over 100 years.”
The anonymously published work, which comes in at 36,000 words and was published before Whitman’s most notable work, Leaves of Grass, is entitled Life and Adventures of Jack Engle: An Auto-Biography; A Story of New York at the Present Time in which the Reader Will Find Some Familiar Characters. Published in the Sunday Dispatch newspaper back in 1852, it centers on Jack Engle, an orphan, as he attempts to make it as a lawyer in New York and has to contend with a scheming boss while digging up old skeletons.[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/324604805?secret_token=s-EMgRZ" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true&show_comments=true&color=false&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
Listen to the clip above to hear Hamm reading Whitman. The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle audiobook will be available May 30. Whitman would have turned 189 on May 31.