Bloomsbury Auctions has announced the availablility of the following Steinbeck manuscripts for sale at auction on June 23, 2009, New York:
432. STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). The Bear Flag Cafe/Sweet Thursday Archive Steinbeck’s abandonment of his libretto for a stage musical based on his book “Cannery Row” yielded instead a sequel to that novel, published as “Sweet Thursday….”
an extraordinary collection of primary material from May to September 1953 including two manuscripts relating to the development and writing of the work originally begun as the stage production “Bear Flag/Cannery Row” and transformed by Steinbeck into “Sweet Thursday.”
Containing two manuscripts of major importance, including a virtually complete original typescript of the novel chapters 1-28 and 33-40, and an earlier, substantially complete holograph manuscript of either complete chapters or major portions of 29 of the published novel’s 40 chapters, the archive represents a fascinating insight into Steinbeck’s composition and revision of a work from its initial outline to its final completion. Writing in a self-imposed seclusion in Sag Harbor, the author’s struggle with the work’s major transformation is evident from letters within the archive as is his sadness and depression at finally finishing the manuscript, ending his relationship with the characters.
Major character and plot changes are represented in both the typescript and the manuscript with 35 pp. of original or carbon typescript of unused material including an unpublished introduction to the novel, a another involving illegal Mexican immigrant workers, a different version on Joseph and Mary’s run-in with the Los Angeles police and lengthy scene with most of the major characters in Doc’s laboratory
Steinbeck’s initial vision of the work, begun as the play “The Bear Flag Café” is extensively represented with over 120 pp. of the initial plot outlines and characters for the play in two titled versions (as “Bear Flag” and as “Cannery Row”) and includes both original holograph manuscripts and original or carbon typescripts as well as untitled or unassigned material originally meant for the stage production, the dialogue from some of which appears in the published novel. Included also are Steinbeck’s sketches for the stage design.
Adding to the depth of material are 12 letters written towards the novels completion to a variety of correspondents providing further insights to Steinbeck’s emotional connection to the work and its characters as well partial fragments and notes unrelated to the novel or play.
Given the institutional holdings of original manuscripts of Steinbeck’s major works, the present represents the most comprehensive and important archive of any remaining in private hands and provides remarkable opportunities for research into the author’s process.
estimate: $200,000 – $300,000
- For further details see the Bloomsbury sale catalogue
- An article in the New York Times on the manuscript
There are also two other Steinbeck works in the sale:
134. STEINBECK, John. Sea of Cortez. NY: The Viking Press, 1941. 8vo. Original plain brown wrappers in half morocco clamshell case. Condition: Slightly rubbed. advance copy of the first edition. The result of Steinbeck and Rickett’s trip to the Gulf of California on the Western Flyer. This printing is not the “first edition in wrappers” described in Goldstone & Payne, but rather an advance issue omitting the illustrations and scientific appendix. Goldstone & Payne A15a. — America and Americans. NY: The Viking Press, 1966. 4to. Photographically illustrated. Publisher’s cloth in dust jacket. Condition: jacket with small chip to outer corner, light darkening. first edition. — The Collected Poems of Amnesia Glasscock. San Francisco: Manroot, 1976. Original printed wrappers, paper dustwrapper. Condition: one minor chip to upper panel at foot. one of 250 numbered copies. (3) [estimate: $800. – $1200. ]
433. STEINBECK, John (1902-1968). Of Mice and Men. New York: Viking, 1937. Original black and orange-decorated tan cloth with dust jacket. Condition: tape residue to free endpapers; slight rubbing at head of jacket spine.
first edition, first issue inscribed by steinbeck, “For Katherine Lowry/ John Steinbeck” on endpaper. With the bullet on p. 88. Goldstone & Payne A7a. [Estimate: $2000 – $3000 ]
[all data from the Bloomsbury Auctions Sale Catalogue – New York, June 23, 2009 ]
- The National Steinbeck Center
- The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University
[Personal note: Steinbeck is my favorite author AFTER Jane Austen – a sure sign of my sagitarrian / schizoid personality (he was after all my undergraduate / graduate thesis and one does not forget this immersion), and a collection of his books sits proudly on the shelves next to “Dear Jane” [though I will not be adding any $300,000. manuscripts anytime soon!], but I am surprised not to find a blog solely devoted to him – lots of posts, just no blog [there IS a Facebook Page with over 14,000 fans!, as well as numerous blogs on “Steinbeck ruined my summer” etc…] – if there is one out there that I have not stumbled upon, please let me know…! [I cannot possibly take on yet another blog…]