WHITMAN, Walt (1819-1892). Leaves of Grass with Sands at Seventy & A Backward Glance o'er Travel'd Roads. Philadelphia: Ferguson Bros. & Co., 1889.
8o (179 x 115 mm). Portrait photograph frontispiece of Whitman seated in profile, holding a flower, 5 portraits. Original black roan wallet with tab (split to leather along tab). Provenance: Gabriel Sarrazin (b. 1853, presentation inscription).
ONE OF 300 COPIES SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR OF WHITMAN'S 'SPECIAL, COMPLETE, FINAL UTTERANCE', Meyerson's Binding A. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY WHITMAN ON HIS BIRTHDAY TO GABRIEL SARRAZIN on the front free endpaper: "Gabriel Sarrazin from the author WW May 31 1889 a memento for WW's finishing his 70th year." Whitman's preface describes the motivation for this special edition: "Today, finishing my 70th year, the fancy comes for celebrating it by a special, complete, final utterance, in one handy volume ... And for testimony to all (and in good measure,) I here with pen and ink append my name."
In the summer of 1888 Charles Aldrich, founder of the Iowa State Historical Department and Whitman collector, visited England and met with William Michael Rossetti, brother of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. At their dinner party he met Gabriel Sarrazin, a French critic who had an interest in Whitman and who had written an essay on his work in La nouvelle revue. When Aldrich relayed this information to Whitman the poet was curious about the essay and its author and Aldrich initiated a correspondence between the two, one that would become one of the warmest and most satisfying relationships of Whitman's last years. See Whitman, Daybooks & Notebooks, ed. William White, NY, 1978, 477: "Thus began a long relationship, by letter, between Whitman and the young French critic, who is mentioned many, many times in Horace Traubel's volumes III, IV and V and in the Correspondence IV and V." On p. 513 of the Daybooks, Whitman records sending this copy to Sarrazin, along with 16 others to people who were unable to attend his birthday party. Meyerson A.2.7.n. A FINE ASSOCIATION COPY.