Life & Letters


About this Item

Title: Walt Whitman to Gabriel Sarrazin, 4 May 1889

Date: May 4, 1889

Whitman Archive ID: med.00870

Source: The location of this manuscript is unknown. Edwin Haviland Miller derives his transcription from a transcription of the original, then in the possession of Gabriel Sarrazin's son Bernard Sarrazin, that was published in the Walt Whitman Review 5 (1959): 9. The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:330–331. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Blake Bronson-Bartlett, Ryan Furlong, Brandon James O'Neil, and Stephanie Blalock

Camden New Jersey U S America
May 4, '89

The book "Poésie Anglaise" safely rec'd1—thanks & thanks again. I am still laid up here lame & paralyzed—Kept in for a year but getting along (as we call it) better & gayer heart than you might suppose. Am preparing an ed'n of Leaves of Grass to be put in pocket book binding,2 with fuller text, & shall send you one when ready.3 For this time I send loving wishes & an old fellow's benison.

Walt Whitman

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).


1. Whitman is referring to Sarrazin's book La Renaissance de la Poésie Anglaise, 1798–1889 (Paris: Perrin, 1889). For Whitman's enthusiastic response to the book, see Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, Saturday, May 4, 1889; see also Whitman's May 4, 1889, letter to Karl Knortz. [back]

2. Whitman had a limited pocket-book edition of Leaves of Grass printed in honor of his 70th birthday, on May 31, 1889, through special arrangement with Frederick Oldach. Only 300 copies were printed, and Whitman signed the title page of each one. The volume also included the annex Sands at Seventy and his essay A Backward Glance O'er Traveled Roads. See Whitman's May 16, 1889, letter to Oldach. For more information on the book see Ed Folsom, Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman: A Catalog and Commentary (University of Iowa: Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, 2005). [back]

3. The inscribed copy is now in the possession of Sarrazin's son, Bernard; see Walt Whitman Review, 5 (1959): 10. [back]


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