William Faulkner collection auctioned in New York City
Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:01 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — A rare collection of signed William Faulkner books and personal items, including one of his most acclaimed novels, “Light in August,” sold at auction Tuesday for $833,246.
The collection of 90 items was nearly a complete representation of Faulkner’s work, said the auction house, Christie’s.
The auction probably was the last chance to acquire such a large collection of the author’s work, Louis Daniel Brodsky, a poet and Faulkner scholar, said in an interview before the auction.
The highest price went for “Absalom, Absalom!” a story about Southern poverty told entirely in flashbacks, which sold for $86,500.
Inscribed in 1936 to novelist and journalist Malcolm Cowley, the first edition novel exceeded the $40,000 to $60,000 pre-sale estimate.
Inscribed copies of “Absalom, Absalom!” are extremely rare, with only two others recorded at auction in the last 30 years, according to Christie’s.
The first edition of “Light in August,” which centers on three characters and explores the devastating effects of racism and religious fanaticism in the South, sold for $47,500. The book also is inscribed by the Nobel Prize-winning author to Cowley, who was working on a profile of Faulkner for Life magazine.
Christie’s did not identify either buyer, or the American seller. It had estimated that the collection would sell for more than $1 million.
A few items offered a glimpse into the personal side of the author, whose stream of consciousness writings explored the complicated social system of the South.
In a 1936 Western Union telegram to his 3-year-old daughter, Faulkner wished her “plenty of ghosts, goblins, witches and cats and owls on Halloween.”
In a 1951 copy of “Sartoris,” Faulkner scribbled, “For Joan, it was all for her, even while she was asleep.”
The author was referring to novelist Joan Williams, with whom he had an affair.
“He’s not merely an American author,” said Tom Lecky, head of the auction house’s department of books and manuscripts.
“He’s an international author.”
Faulkner was a native of New Albany, Miss., then lived in Oxford, Miss. The University of Mississippi runs a museum at his Greek Revival house.
Published in The Messenger 6.23.10