About buying and selling used books and stuff online. Plus my adventures and random thoughts.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Featured Auction Classic

The beautiful Folio society edition of “Darkness at Noon,” Arthur Koestler’s examination of the mechanics of the Stalinist purges of the 1930’s is now up for auction on e-bay.

The Folio Society produces collectible quality illustrated volumes at reasonable prices. My experience as a re-seller shows these books tend to keep their value pretty well.

This particular volume reprints one of the most widely read and influential novels of the 20th Century. The story made a huge impression on me when I read it in the late 1960s; I found it to be a gripping novel of suspense. Contemporary readers looking for fast action, car chases and explosions are advised to pass this one by. But readers looking for compelling drama of high significance will enjoy this one. Incidentally, “Darkness” lists as number eight on the Modern Library top 100 novels of the 20th Century.

The confessions of top men in Stalin’s government to crimes they could not have possibly committed puzzled Western intellectuals. The architects of the Russian revolution, men who had devoted their lives to and who had sacrificed others to the cause, claimed to have committed treason and high crimes against the state. Koestler was himself a Stalinist in the 1930’s, and he shows how the logic that led these men to justify their own brutality also led to their false admissions of guilt and then their execution. Stalin picked off all potential rivals to top party leadership, one by one. What was so puzzling was their cooperation in their own demise. Koestler melds the true stories of several men into the fictional account of one in a way that immediately engages and captivates the reader.

Additional reviews at Library Thing are available here.

Physical Description: The stark gray and black cover features an outline of the prisoner in his cell drawn in gilt; very dramatic. The thick black lines of the wood engravings complement the theme and tone of the novel.

This particular hardcover volume comes in a slipcase. This edition features 10 wood-engravings by George Buday and an introduction by Vladimir Bukovsky. Translated by Daphne Hardy. Cover design by Sue Bradbury.

Year published: 1980
ISBN: none
Condition: Very fine (see below)
Binding: Cloth (Shirting Improva and Scholco Dublina.)
Number of pages: 267
Number of illustrations: 10
Paper Quality: Smooth Cream Wove
Dust Jacket: N/A
Height: about 9 1/8 inches in slipcase
Width: about 5 7/8 inches in slipcase
Thickness: about 1 1/8 inch in slipcase
Weight: 1 lb, 5 oz in slipcase.

The bottom front of the slipcase is creased and the paper over the board eroded at that point. The slipcase is sunspotted.

The book itself is not marked in any way; no pencil marks, no hand writing, no underlining, no highlighting; no folds, no creases, no rips, no tears; the cover is pristine, no bumped corners, no erosion, no marks.


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