Borges and Steinbeck at Auction
New York, NY—Bloomsbury Auctions is delighted to bring to market an important selection of works from two major 20th century authors featured in its June 23rd, Travel, Literature, Autographs and Fine Books sale. The two-part sale, which takes place at 10am and 2pm in Bloomsbury’s Manhattan salesroom, presents 580 lots split into six sections that cover a range of interests including Travel, Literature, Autographs, Law Books, Fine Books, and Private Press.
Among the highlights is a particularly rare and intriguing collection of works by protean Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. The standout of the collection is an extraordinary holograph manuscript of El jardin de senderos que se bifurcan or The Garden of Forking Paths, one of the outstanding imaginative and speculative works of the 20th century—the present stands as the most important Borges manuscript to ever appear at auction. One of the finest examples of the author’s work extant, and with no other manuscript examples in institutional collections, it is a singular and landmark work to world literature and the introduction of the idea of ‘hypertext’; a key concept of modern thought and an intellectual basis for the internet (estimate $200,000-$300,000).
Additionally included are several inscribed first editions including Borges’ own copy of Evaristo Carriego, heavily corrected with numerous changes in his own hand (estimate $25,000-$30,000), and a first edition of Cuaderno San Martin inscribed to his former fiancée with a 22-line holograph poem (estimate $8,000-$10,000). Also of special note is a draft for the obituary of Paul Valéry that appears as the essay “Valéry as Symbol” in Labyrinths; a writer of immense importance for Borges (estimate $10,000-$15,000). There are also several holograph manuscripts dating from the 1920s to the 1940s - among these are two book reviews that provide a fascinating glimpse into Borges’ esthetic concerns (estimate $8,000-$12,000 each). Another remarkable manuscript in Borges’ hand is the critical essay El Estilo y el Tiempo describing his thoughts on the act of writing and translation and represents an important precursor to his groundbreaking 1939 fiction Pierre Menard (estimate $30,000-$40,000).
The auction’s second headlining collection consists of the contents of the John Steinbeck archive gathered from the apartment in New York City that he and his third wife, Elaine, shared for thirteen years. The items include many important autograph manuscripts, voluminous correspondence, several inscribed illustrated works including original drawings and photographs. Steinbeck’s personal library comprising some 500 books, including first editions, presentation copies, many with his rubber stamp as well as later presentation copies to Elaine Steinbeck, is offered as a stand-alone group. Also offered are documents relating to stage, screen and film productions including interesting material on Viva Zapata, original typescripts and manuscripts, an unproduced film treatment of Ibsen titled The Vikings and an abandoned reworking of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, both in original typescript.
The ephemera encountered here is as fascinating as it is comprehensive: newsprint clippings from around the world, publicity and contractual matter, property deeds, solicitations for public appearances, political commentary, even a group of audio and visual recordings, all spanning forty years. Of a more intimate nature are the personal effects gathered, such as Steinbeck’s standing globe and chair, even a collection of his tobacco pipes and reading spectacles. Also found is a poignant and extraordinary memento: Edward Ricketts’ briefcase and the telegram received by Steinbeck upon his friend and collaborator’s fatal car wreck.
For interested Steinbeck collectors and institutional bidders, Bloomsbury Auctions is pleased to offer this entire archive en bloc (estimate $200,000-$250,000). If the reserve for the lots as a collection is not met, the lots will be sold individually.
In addition, there are large groups of material from Jules Verne and Thornton Wilder obtained from two private collections that include first editions, unpublished typescripts, inscribed copies, and an uncorrected galley proof of The Bridge of San Luis Rey (estimate $2,500-$3,500). The travel material also boasts many highly desirable items including Schoener’s Luculentissima quaeda[m] terrae totius description (estimate $40,000-$60,000), and a profusely extra illustrated set of The South Polar Times (estimate $25,000-$35,000). Additionally a fine private collection of mainly 16th century law books, a large autographs section, signed theater memorabilia and a sampling of private press and fine books are offered.
Friday, June 18th, from 10:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday, June 19th, from 10:00am - 3:00pm
Monday, June 21st, from 10:00am - 5:00pm
Tuesday, June 22nd, from 10:00am - 5:00pm
Or by private appointment
(Please note the gallery is closed on Sunday, June 20th)