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Tuesday June 11, 2013

Literary gems for sale

Rare item: The
working
manuscript of
Typhoon by
Joseph Conrad
will be up for
grabs at today’s
auction by
Sotheby’s in
New York City. Rare item: The working manuscript of Typhoon by Joseph Conrad will be up for grabs at today’s auction by Sotheby’s in New York City.

An acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature and a first edition of The Great Gatsby are among the rare items going under the hammer at Sotheby’s ‘Great Literature of the 20th century’ auction.

MANUSCRIPTS, letters and drawings of the writers William Faulkner, Samuel Beckett and Joseph Conrad start to go on auction in New York today, giving collectors of literary items a rare chance to snap up their belongings.

Sotheby’s has classed today’s event in the Big Apple as “the largest and most important group of William Faulkner material ever to appear at auction”, ahead of a second event in London next month.

The New York auction includes the Nobel Prize for Literature scroll and medal awarded to Faulkner in 1949 for “his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”, as well as his acceptance speech.

The price tag for the Faulkner lots, discovered by a grandson who was cleaning out a building to make space for chickens on the family farm in Virginia, is estimated at US$2mil (RM6.2mil), sparking interest from universities.

“Some of this collection was thought to be lost. No one has seen it for many years,” said Justin Caldwell, vice president of Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s, in an interview last week.

“There are several universities interested, most of this will go probably to an American university.”

Among other items to be auctioned are typed copies of stories, proofs of his books, and letters written from Paris by Faulkner (1897-1962), who authored The Sound And The Fury (1929), and As I Lay Dying (1930).

Sotheby’s took the rare step last week of displaying several Faulkner items in Paris instead of London ahead of the New York auction on account of the French connection.

“There is more interest in Faulkner there than in Britain,” said Caldwell.

“It would be nice to see something going to France.”

The New York auction will also see a first edition of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, valued between US$100,000 and US$200,000 (RM309,900 and RM619,800), go on the block.

The second part of Sotheby’s “Great Literature of the 20th Century” auction will be held from July 10 in London.

The two biggest items are the working manuscript of Murphy, Irish-born Beckett’s first book, and Typhoon, by Polish-born Conrad (1857-1924), who eventually took British citizenship but always considered himself a Pole.

Both texts are currently on display at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York, alongside the Faulkner collection.

Murphy, almost 800 pages long, is described by the auction house as “the most important manuscript of a complete novel by a modern British or Irish writer to appear at auction for many decades.”

Consequently, its estimate is between US$1.25mil and US$1.87mil (RM3.8mil and RM5.8mil).

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s London deputy director specialist in books and manuscripts, said she expected Typhoon, and Murphy, to go to institutional buyers, such as important universities. – AFP Relaxnews

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