Peter Harrington launched its first World Literature Exhibition and Catalogue which celebrates literature that crosses national and linguistic borders. The catalogue contains 197 rare books and items which highlight the historical importance of an internationally shared literary tradition that is open to outside ideas and connects disparate voices.
The exhibition is being held at 43 Dover Street until Thursday, 6th June (except Sundays) and the catalogue can be found online here.
Sammy Jay, who spent the last six months working on the catalogue, says: “It's definitely been a labour of love, but I am pleased that we have achieved what we set out to do with this catalogue. We wanted to emphasise the international aspect of literary history – how texts and authors have travelled from one country or continent to another, how they inspired and influenced literature in new cultures and languages. Peter Harrington perhaps used to be better known for rare books by British or American authors, but we are a global business and I wanted to represent world literature to show that and perhaps to reflect the globalised world we are living in.”
Highlights include the first printed edition of Homer in Greek from 1488 (£250,000). This copy belonged to George Shuckburgh (1751-1804), a well-known English bibliophile who also owned a Gutenberg Bible, the first to reach the United States.
Also included is a rare first publication of Shakespeare in Ottoman Turkish of Othello from 1876 (£5,750) next to a first and sole edition (number 17 of 117 copies) of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, printed and illustrated by pioneering printer Dorothy Newkirk Stewart (1891-1955) in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1953 (£3,750).
Dylan Thomas’s schoolboy copy of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám translated by Edward Fitzgerald and published in 1899 (£12,500), sits alongside Jorge Luis Borges’s copy of Dante (£19,500). The rare first French Frankenstein features the earliest printed acknowledgement of Mary Shelley as an author (£45,000) and an equally rare first illustrated edition in English of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days from 1873 (£7,500) is also included.
Among the books of international political importance is Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago, secretly printed in The Hague by the CIA (£15,000) as part of their propaganda programme and distributed in the Eastern Block. While the Japanese translation of Joyce’s Ulysses sparked a Modernist movement in Japan (£12,500).