Commentary

Selected Criticism

Title:
Sarrazin, Gabriel (1853–1935)
Author:
Sarracino, Carmine
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

Born in Laval, France, Gabriel Sarrazin first encountered Whitman's work while in England researching a book on the English romantic poets, La Renaissance de la Poésie Anglaise, 1778–1889. Sarrazin, deeply impressed, inserted a chapter called "Walt Whitman," which was published separately in La Nouvelle Revue on 1 May 1888. In January 1889, Sarrazin sent Whitman a copy of the well-received article.

Horace Traubel reports that Whitman asked two friends, William Sloane Kennedy and Dr. Richard Maurice Bucke, each to translate the Sarrazin article. Whitman then had two versions to compare, and he was well pleased with Sarrazin's work, pronouncing it to be among the "strongest pieces of work which Leaves of Grass has drawn out" (Traubel 109). Whitman wrote to Sarrazin, and the two continued to correspond until almost the very end of Whitman's life.

After a brief introduction, the essay is divided into four parts: Pantheism, The New World, Leaves of Grass, and Walt Whitman. The first section is the most striking, for Sarrazin connects Whitman with the Oriental mystics and, further, compares him with the ancient prophets.

Bibliography

Asselineau, Roger. "Walt Whitman to Gabriel Sarrazin: Four Unpublished Pieces." Walt Whitman Review 1 (1959): 8–11.

Sarrazin, Gabriel. "Walt Whitman." In Re Walt Whitman. Ed. Horace Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas Harned. Philadelphia: McKay, 1893. 159–194.

Traubel, Horace. With Walt Whitman in Camden. Ed. Sculley Bradley. Vol. 4. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1953.


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