Bright Young Collectors: Audrey Golden

Our new Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Audrey Golden of Charlottesville, Virginia:

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Please introduce us to your book collection.  What areas do you collect in?

I collect books by Pablo Neruda.  A large part of the collection came from my travels to Chile and Argentina (including visits to Neruda’s three homes), where I discovered many first editions of Neruda’s works. 

Where are you from?

I’m currently in Charlottesville, VA, where I just completed my Ph.D. at the University of Virginia.  I went to college in Connecticut at Wesleyan University, and I’ve now been in the south for quite awhile.  Before moving to Virginia to study English literature, I graduated from law school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

What did you study at University?

My academic experience has been quite varied, but my doctoral work has brought together many of my interests.  I studied film at Wesleyan, where I became interested in issues of human rights and documentary filmmaking.  At the same time, I took a number of Russian literature classes that introduced me to the ways literature can depict political struggle.  I became particularly interested in international human rights law while in law school at Wake Forest, which played a major role in my doctoral work on contemporary Anglophone literature, human rights, and restorative justice.

How many books are in your collection?

Currently, I have 121 books and pieces of ephemera from 22 different countries. I’ve added a few since finding out I placed in the contest, but I’m still ravenously hunting for an early Japanese translation of one of Neruda’s works.  I spent time in Kyoto this summer and visited many antiquarian bookshops, but I couldn’t find any Neruda.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

The first Neruda book I bought was a used copy of the bilingual Cien Sonetos de Amor (100 Love Sonnets) published by University of Texas Press.  I bought it in high school after memorizing Sonnet XV for a Spanish class, and I loved the earthiness of his language. 

How about the most recent book?

I most recently found--by a sheer stroke of luck--a 1982 Farsi edition of Heights of Macchu Picchu published by an Iranian Press (in exile).

And your favorite book in your collection?

One of my favorites is Antologia, an anthology published by Editorial Nascimento with an introduction by Federico Garcia Lorca.  It has a magnificent woodcut of a ship figurehead on the cover (just like the many Neruda collected in his Isla Negra home).  I found it at a wonderful book market in Santiago, Chile.

Best bargain you’ve found?

Polemica: Neruda al Desnudo.  This is a rare hand-stapled pamphlet from the 1970s, printed in Santiago.  I found it tucked inside a Spanish dictionary at a bookstore in Pittsburgh, and I bought it for $1.

How about the One that Got Away?

I’ve actually finally come into possession of this one.  While in South America, I had my eye on a copy of Cantos de Neruda, printed in Lima, Peru in 1943.  It has magnificent red-ink woodcuts that accompany some of Neruda’s WWII-era poems.  When I tried to buy it, it had been sold.  I ended up finding another copy of it at Thomas Goldwasser’s rare books shop in San Francisco.  I used the money I won from the contest at the University of Virginia to buy the book, and I’m so thrilled to have it in my collection.

What would you consider the Holy Grail for your collection?

The absolute holy grail is an original edition of España en el Corazón. This true first edition was printed near Gerona, by Republican soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, on a press with found and recycled materials.  If I never have one of these in the collection, however, the next “holy grail” item would definitely be the first edition of Residencia en la Tierra, published by Editorial Nascimento in 1933.  Each of these first editions was printed in green ink (Neruda’s signature color) with Neruda’s inscription in each.  I actually held one of these at Librería Helena de Buenos Aires, an amazing bookstore in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What is your favorite bookshop?

What a dangerous question!  I have so many favorites.  I think Jeff Maser’s book warehouse in Berkeley is phenomenal, and I had such an amazing time looking through his treasure trove of modern and contemporary poetry.  Librería Alberto Casares in Buenos Aires, Argentina is like a bookstore from a dream with its wooden ladders and shelves filled from floor to ceiling.  I could also spend all day (and nearly did) in Collectors Treasury in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?

Like Neruda’s homes, my house is filled with various folk art collections from my travels, including matryoshka dolls from Eastern Europe, Southeast Asian shadow puppets, and masks from Guatemala, Japan, and Russia.


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