Life & Letters

Correspondence

About this Item

Title: Gabriel Sarrazin to Walt Whitman, 6 January 1889

Date: January 6, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03737

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images or a microfilm reproduction of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Andrea Bastien, Breanna Himschoot, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock



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Paris,
10, Rue Croyon
6 Janvier 18891

Dear Mr. Whitman,

I send you the estimate of you I had room to publish last year in one of our most important Reviews, La Nouvelle Revue.2 Unfortunately the essay is not complete; I was obliged to shorten it, as it is often the case, when one writes for periodicals, and I would not myself encroach on the space devoted to the work of other contributors; but my second series of English and American poets will soon appear in book form, and there will I print all I wrote first about you, to the full extent.

Did you hear a lady friend of mine, Madame Blanc-Bentzon3 reviewed "Leaves of Grass" in the Revue des Deux-Mondes4? She did it ten or fifteen years ago, I don't remember exactly the date, and the same book was also reviewed four years ago by Madame Léo Quesnel,5 in the Revue Politique et Litteraire.6 Lately, a young writer, M. Francis Vielé–Griffin7 translated Faces in a less known periodical, La Revue indépendante;8 and I have been told another young poet, who died five years ago, M. Jules Laforgue,9 translated, I know not where, A Woman Waits for me. I cannot procure easily the essays or translations; but for that, I should have forwarded them to you.

Believe me, Dear Mr. Whitman, your admirer
Gabriel Sarrazin

Paris,
10, Rue Croyon


Correspondent:
Gabriel Sarrazin (1853–1935) was a translator and poet from France, who commented positively not only on Whitman's work but also on Poe's. Whitman later corresponded with Sarrazin and apparently liked the critic's work on Leaves of Grass—Whitman even had Sarrazin's chapter on his book translated twice. For more on Sarrazin, see Carmine Sarracino, "Sarrazin, Gabriel (1853–1935)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).

Notes:

1. This letter is addressed: Etats Unis d'Amerique | Walt Whitman, | Middle Street, | Camden, | New Jersey | U.S.A. It is postmarked: Paris 42 | [illegible] 7 | JANV | 89 | AV. FRIEDLAND; New York | Jan 20 | 89 | Paid | H | All; Camden N. J. | Jan 21 | 6 AM | 89 | Rec'd. [back]

2. Sarrazin is referring to his essay "Poétes modernes de l'Amérique: Whitman," which was published in La Nouvelle Revue 52 (May 1888), 164–84. Here, Sarrazin explains to Whitman that while the essay had been abridged in the journal, the excised portions would be restored when printed in La renaissance de la poésie anglaise. See Roger Asselineau's article in Walt Whitman Review 5 (1959), 8–11. After receiving Sarrazin's letter, Whitman then asked William Sloane Kennedy and Richard Maurice Bucke to make an abstract in English of Sarrazin's essay (see Whitman's letter to Kennedy of January 22, 1889, and to Bucke of January 27, 1889). Sarrazin's piece is reprinted in an English translation by Harrison S. Morris in In Re Walt Whitman (1893, pp. 159–194). [back]

3. Thérèse Blanc (1840–1907), under her psuedonym Thérèse Bentzon, was an author, translator, and literary critic who is specifically noted for her expertise on American literary works and her subsequent writings for the Revue de Deux Mondes (Karen Offen, Debating the Woman Question in the French Third Republic, 1870–1920 [Cambridge University Press, 2018], 189–190). [back]

4. This article was published in the June 1, 1872 issue, of the publication. [back]

5. As yet we have no information about this person. [back]

6. In February of 1884, Quesnel declared that the Leaves are untranslatable and that Whitman was not enough of an artist to appeal to Quesnel's countrymen (P. Mansell Jones, The Background of Modern French Poetry [Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1951], 71). [back]

7. Francis Vielé (1864–1937) was born in America and moved to Paris with his mother when his parents divorced in 1870. He was a French symbolist poet and literary critic known for creating controversy; for example, a slighting remark he made about Catulle Mendès led to him being wounded in a duel in 1891 (Reinhard Clifford Kuhn, The Return to Reality a Study of Francis Vielé-Griffin [Geneva, Switzerland and Paris, France: Librairie E. Droz and Librairie Minard, 1962]). [back]

8. This translation can be found on pages 271–286 of Volume 9 of La Revue indépendante de littérature et d'art published in October of 1888. [back]

9. Jules Laforgue (1860–1887) was a French free-verse poet born in Uruguay. Laforgue, whose work mixed symbolism with impressionism, became one of Whitman's most important supporters in France, and he translated thirty-four of Whitman's poems, published in La Vogue in 1886. Shortly after receiving Whitman's permission to translate Leaves of Grass as a whole in 1887, he died of tuberculosis. [back]


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