"AM PREPARING AN EDN OF LEAVES OF GRASS TO BE PUT IN POCKET BOOK BINDING WITH FULLER TEXT": AUTOGRAPH POSTCARD BOLDLY WRITTEN AND SIGNED BY WALT WHITMAN TO GABRIEL SARRAZIN, A FRENCH AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR, THANKING HIM FOR SENDING A COPY OF HIS POÉSIE ANGLAISE (FEATURING A CHAPTER ON WHITMAN); COMPLAINING GOOD-NATUREDLY ABOUT HIS OWN ILL HEALTH; AND NOTING PROGRESS ON THE NEW 1889 POCKET BOOK EDITION OF LEAVES OF GRASS
WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph postcard signed. Camden, No publisher, May 4, 1889. Universal Postal Union/United States postal card, measuring 5 by 3 inches. $9500.
Wonderful original autograph postcard to French author and translator Gabriel Sarrazin, confirming the receipt of Sarrazin's Poésie Anglaise (featuring a chapter on Whitman); noting his own poor health—somewhat mitigated by his general happiness; and promising to send a new edition of Leaves of Grass once complete.
The postcard, written entirely in Whitman's hand, is addressed to his friend and correspondent, the French author, translator, and poet Gabriel Sarrazin, and reads: "Camden New Jersey US America May 4 '89—The book 'Poesie Anglaise' safely rec'd—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, with fuller text. I shall send you one when ready. For this time I send loving wishes & an old fellow's [crossed out: "loving wishes"] benison. Walt Whitman." This postcard is quite desirable due to its mention of Leaves of Grass. For Whitman, Leaves of Grass was an ongoing project, published in various editions with substantial alterations in each. The edition mentioned in the letter, in a pocket book binding made from limp morocco, was a commemorative edition, issued in 1889 in only 300 copies to celebrate Whitman's 70th birthday. It was followed by only one more major edition, known as the "Deathbed Edition," published in a standard cloth binding in 1891-92. Whitman died in 1892, an end to an extended period of illness following paralytic strokes in 1873 and 1888. This letter is addressed to French author Gabriel Sarrazin. "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" (Carmine Sarracino). Whitman arranged to publish Sarrazin's biographical article, but the article was only distributed among Whitman's inner circle. A translation was not published until after Whitman's death in In Re Walt Whitman (1893). Address slip correction to "67 George Street Euston Road, London, N.W. (Angleterre)" pasted over original Paris mailing address. Expect American and French postal marking.
A few original ink smudges, a bit of discoloration to recto of postcard only (letter on verso), signature bold. most desirable.