PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN: AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION OF WILLIAM FAULKNER
This unique private collection comprises a virtually complete representation of Faulkner's work, with every major novel found in a fine state of preservation. Scarce manuscripts, ephemera, photographs and journal contributions, rarely seen in such completeness, further distinguish the collection. Formed over a quarter century, this collection reflects a bibliophile's passion to collect not only the key landmarks in Faulkner's body of work, but copies in the finest condition and with outstanding provenance.
Since most Faulkner manuscript material is already in institutions, few examples become available and are extremely scarce on the market. This auction offers several rare opportunities to acquire Faulkner manuscripts, notably the manuscript of his early poem "An Old Man Says" (lot 31), manuscript fragments from Light in August (lot 55) and The Bear (lot 78), and typescript fragments from "Go Down, Moses" (lot 79).
William Faulkner was well aware of the value of his inscriptions during his lifetime, as the extra income he was able to generate from the sale of his signed limited editions was significant. Faulkner himself helped create scarcity of inscribed copies of his books by only presenting books to his close friends. A remarkable number of twenty-four inscribed books is found in this collection.
The collector focused on the most important association copies, including six to his mother (including that of his already scarce first book, The Marble Faun, lot 33, and lots 73, 81, 84, 99 and 102); four to the Memphis novelist and Faulkner's lover Joan Williams (lots 41, 58, 71 and 105); two to Else Jonsson, the widow of his Swedish translator and who was to become his lover (lots 82 and 103); and two to the great critic Malcolm Cowley (lots 56 and 85).
Condition throughout the collection is of the highest quality, ranging from mint or near mint copies of many of Faulkner's signed limited editions; to fine copies in dust jackets, including an immaculate copy of The Sound and the Fury (lot 42), a book noted for the delicacy of its dust jacket; to one of the rarest Faulkner dust jackets, the novel Mosquitoes with the "card player" dust jacket (lot 38).
The collection also includes ephemeral material relating to Faulkner and his family, most significantly Faulkner's uniform from the Canadian Royal Air Force, which he joined at 17 after having been denied entry into the U.S.Army (lot 114). No comparable collection of Faulkner material, with its focus on condition, diversity, and provenance, has ever appeared at auction.
Petersen references in this catalogue are to Serendipity Books catalogue 48: William Faulkner: The Carl Petersen Collection, 1991.