Edgar Saltus

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Edgar Saltus

Edgar Evertson Saltus (October 8, 1855 – July 31, 1921) was an American writer known for his highly refined prose style. His works paralleled those by European decadent authors such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, Gabriele D'Annunzio and Oscar Wilde.


Edgar Saltus was born in New York City on October 8, 1855 to Francis Henry Saltus and his second wife, Eliza Evertson,[1] both of Dutch descent.[2] After two semesters at Yale University, Saltus entered Columbia Law School in 1878,[3] graduating with a law degree in 1880.[4] He wrote two books of philosophy: The Philosophy of Disenchantment (1885) focused on pessimism and in particular the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Eduard Von Hartmann,[5] while The Anatomy of Negation (1886) tried "to convey a tableau of anti-theism from Kapila to Leconte de Lisle".[6] After a conversion experience, the once American Ambassador to Pessimism and Anti-theism credited the idealistic and unconventional Ralph Waldo Emerson with having opened his eyes. In an 1896 Collier’s column he wrote, “I began to see, and what to me was even more marvelous, I began to think.” In time, he became a member of the Theosophical Society, an organization that studied, synthesized and experimented with the more esoteric concepts and practices of world religions.

His elder half-brother Francis Saltus Saltus was a minor poet. Both brothers are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.


Acclaimed by fellow writers in his day, Saltus fell into obscurity after his death. His novel The Paliser Case was adapted to film in 1920, and his novel Daughters of the Rich was filmed in 1923.

A biography by Marie Saltus, Edgar Saltus: The Man was published in 1925. Edgar Saltus, a critical study by Claire Sprague, appeared in 1970.

A three-year love affair in the 1890s is disclosed in a travel/autobiographical book by renowned heiress, mystic and Bohemian Aimee Crocker entitled And I'd Do It Again in 1936.

The writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten was instrumental in convincing Saltus's daughter, Elsie Saltus Munds, to donate to Yale what is now known as the Edgar Saltus Papers, consisting of thirty-eight first editions, two of them inscribed, and eighteen letters written in 1918. [7]


  1. [biography of] Balzac (1884)
  2. The Philosophy of Disenchantment (1885)
  3. The Anatomy of Negation (1886)
  4. Mr.Incoul's Misadventure (1887)
  5. The Truth About Tristrem Varick (1888)
  6. Eden: An Episode (1888)
  7. The Pace That Kills (1889)
  8. A Transient Guest and Other Episodes (1889)
  9. A Transaction in Hearts (1889)
  10. Love And Lore (1890)
  11. Mary Magdalen (1891)
  12. Imperial Purple (1892)
  13. Madame Sapphira (1893)
  14. Enthralled (1894)
  15. Daughters of the Rich (1900)
  16. Purple and Fine Women (1903)
  17. The Pomps of Satan (1904)
  18. The Perfume of Eros: A Fifth Avenue Incident (1905)
  19. Vanity Square (1906)
  20. Historia Amoris (1906)
  21. The Lords of the Ghostland (1907)
  22. The Monster (1912)
  23. Oscar Wilde, An Idler's Impressions (1917)
  24. The Gates Of Life (1919)
  25. The Paliser Case (1919)
  26. The Imperial Orgy: An Account of the Tsars From the First to the Last (1920)
  27. The Ghost Girl (1922)
  28. Uplands of Dream (A 1925 compilation of sixteen essays published in magazines between 1900 and 1914)[1]
  29. When Dreams Come True: A Story of Emotional Life. ISBN 0-404-05535-4. [2]
  30. The Philosophical Writings of Edgar Saltus ISBN 978-0-988-55364-4. (2014)


  1. ^ Vrooman, Jr., Isaac H. (March 20, 1909), New York Times Saturday Review of Books (PDF), New York City: The New York Times, retrieved October 26, 2015
  2. ^ American National Biography Retrieved February 20, 2018
  3. ^ David Weir, Decadent Culture in the United States, 2008, pp.206–7.
  4. ^ New York State Literary Tree Person Detail for Edgar Evertson Saltus
  5. ^ David Weir, Decadent Culture in the United States, 2008, pp.26–30
  6. ^ The Anatomy of Negation, p.10, cited in Weir, Decadent Culture, pp.32–3
  7. ^ Archives at Yale - Edgar Saltus Papers Retrieved April 7, 2019.

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