A rare complete copy of William Shakespeare's "Comedies, Histories and Tragedies", often referred to as his First Folio will be auctioned soon.
The book is one of the only six complete copies known to be in private hands. It will go under the hammer at Christie's New York on April 24 .
The First Folio, bringing together for the first time the collected plays of Shakespeare (1564-1616), ranks as the greatest work of the English language and, indeed, of world literature. Already celebrated on its first publication, it has remained a highly sought-after masterpiece over four centuries.
It is estimated to sell between $4,000,000-6,000,000 (Rs 28 crore-42 crore), the auction house said.
The book was published in 1623 by Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who collaborated after the writer's death to compile this authoritative edition of his work. The First Folio contains 36 of Shakespeare's plays, including 18 that may have otherwise been lost forever- among the rescued works are Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and Julius Caesar.
Heminge and Condell also shaped the way the world would read Shakespeare's plays by organizing them for the first time into the categories of comedies, tragedies, and histories.
The book's large size helped elevate the cultural standing of Shakespeare and drama generally, as it assumed an imposing folio format typically reserved at the time for Bibles, theology, and law books.
Christie's said that it is after nearly 20 years that a complete copy of the First Folio has come to auction and will offer on sale "a well-preserved and complete copy of this monument to world literature".
"This copy is especially exciting as one of the very few complete copies surviving in private hands and knowing that it was once in the hands of the great Shakespeare scholar Edmond Malone, who himself affirmed its completeness already 200 years ago," Margaret Ford, International Head of Group, Books & Manuscripts, London. The First Folio will tour several cities before its New York auction.
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