At the time of publication, the classic horror novel by Mary Shelley Frankenstein has met mixed reviews – and sexist. âThe author of this one is, we understand, a woman; it is an aggravation of what is the dominant fault of the novel â, we read in an article by British critic. Today, more than 200 years later, a rare first edition of the Gothic masterpiece has become the most expensive printed work to ever be auctioned by a woman.
One of 500 original copies published on Jan. 1, 1818, the book fetched $ 1.17 million at a Christie’s sale in New York last week, nearly four times its high estimate of $ 300,000. It was part of the collection of the late American cable television executive Theodore B. Baum, whose impressive library of early literary editions included original works by Jane Austen, Charlotte BrontÃ«, Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf, among others. Another highlight of the sale was a first engraved edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula which sold for $ 275,000, setting an auction record for the epistolary novel.
Baum’s copy of Frankenstein was particularly coveted, says Christie’s, because it is not cut from the original boards (a cardboard binding typical of 18th-century books and a desirable feature for collectors). The edition, which includes a preface written by Mary’s husband, poet Percy Shelley, and a dedication to the author’s father, William Godwin, is the only original plate set to appear at auction since 1985.
Regarded today as the first science fiction novel, Shelley’s story was not particularly appealing to publishers at the time of writing. The manuscript was turned down by two publishers before being accepted by Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, who “mostly dealt with cheap books,” according to biographer Miranda Seymour. She got a third of the profits, but none of the fame; some readers have assumed it was the work of a man, and many question his authorship to this day.
“The author, according to a convention of the time, would remain anonymous,” writes Seymour. “It was unfortunate for Mary: with her husband writing the Preface, the references to her ‘friend’ seemed a slight disguise for the fact that he had written the novel himself.”
By reinventing the traditional bokashi technically, Hamanaka reminds us that nothing is dead, even when many claim the opposite.
The company’s mastery of the smoke and mirrors of the art market is its most impressive illusion.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, there is a priority for this feminine erasure. Women have been and continue to be the performers of the invisible, unpaid and unaccredited work that keeps much of the world running smoothly.