Le Recueil des Histoires de Troye, a 1464 work by Raoul Lefèvre, tells a chivalirized version of the history of the city Troy. The Greek heroes, Hercules and Jason, are recast as ideal knights and founders of the Burgundian dynasty. It was translated by William Caxton into English soon after it was written and found popularity under its new title, The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye. But these days, it is best known for its place in the literary tradition as the first book ever printed in English, and it just sold for over one million dollars.
In the prologue of the English translation, Caxton records how the "work was begun in Bruges in the County of Flanders, the first day of March, the year of the Incarnation of our said Lord God a thousand four hundred sixty and eight, and ended and finished in the holy city of Cologne the 19th day of September, the year of our said Lord God a thousand four hundred sixty and eleven, etc." It was to be a gift for Duke Charles’s new wife, Margaret, upon her entry into the English court. The original hand-written copy was produced as part of a long tradition of currying royal favor. Sotheby's, where a first printed edition was up for auction, writes that "It is unlikely that Caxton originally intend his translation for print. He probably first encountered the printing press when he moved to Cologne in 1471 and it was almost certainly at that point that he began to consider undertaking a radically new commercial venture: printing in English."
The young tradition of the printing press, at the time just 30 years old, favored Latin works over any particular vernacular for their ability to find a market across Europe. Caxton, however, was confident that the cultural cache of the Burgundian court would inspire literate English nobles to embrace The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye.
Although the date of his translation is carefully recorded in the prologue, the context of that first printing is more difficult to determine. Historians have placed it sometime between 1473 and 1475 at a workshop in Bruges.
Sotheby's copy, one of just 18 surviving from that first printing, features annotations in the book's margins written by multiple centuries worth of readers. It is the first copy to appear for auction in over ten years. Having last been purchased in 1948 for 15,000 GBP, or $25,727, it sold earlier today for a record 1,082,500 GBP ($1,823,363).
Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.
On what would be his 118th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."
"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."
ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT
"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."
"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."
Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. , Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS
"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."
"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."
ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE
"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."
ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
ON TAKING ACTION
"Never mistake motion for action."
ON GETTING WORDS OUT
"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."
Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP
"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"
ON FINDING STRENGTH
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."
ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS
"All things truly wicked start from innocence."
ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW
"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."
ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE
"Courage is grace under pressure."
ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY
"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."
By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
ON KEEPING PROMISES
"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
ON GOOD VS. EVIL
"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."
ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE
"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."
ON HAPPY ENDINGS
"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."
Madeleine L’Engle’s acclaimed science fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time has been delighting readers since its 1962 release. Whether you’ve never had the chance to read this timeless tale or haven’t picked it up in a while, here are some facts that are sure to get you in the mood for a literary journey through the universe—not to mention its upcoming big-screen adaptation.
1. THE AUTHOR’S PERSISTENCE PAID OFF.
She’s a revered writer today, but Madeleine L’Engle’s early literary career was rocky. She nearly gave up on writing on her 40th birthday. L’Engle stuck with it, though, and on a 10-week cross-country camping trip she found herself inspired to begin writing A Wrinkle in Time.
2. EINSTEIN SPARKED L'ENGLE'S INTEREST IN QUANTUM PHYSICS AND TESSERACTS.
L’Engle was never a strong math student, but as an adult she found herself drawn to concepts of cosmology and non-linear time after picking up a book about Albert Einstein. L’Engle adamantly believed that any theory of writing is also a theory of cosmology because “one cannot discuss structure in writing without discussing structure in all life." The idea that religion, science, and magic are different aspects of a single reality and should not be thought of as conflicting is a recurring theme in her work.
L’Engle often compared her young heroine, Meg Murry, to her childhood self—gangly, awkward, and a poor student. Like many young girls, both Meg and L’Engle were dissatisfied with their looks and felt their appearances were homely, unkempt, and in a constant state of disarray.
4. IT WAS REJECTED BY MORE THAN TWO DOZEN PUBLISHERS.
L’Engle weathered 26 rejections before Farrar, Straus & Giroux finally took a chance on A Wrinkle in Time. Many publishers were nervous about acquiring the novel because it was too difficult to categorize. Was it written for children or adults? Was the genre science fiction or fantasy?
5. L’ENGLE DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO CATEGORIZE THE BOOK, EITHER.
To compound publishers’ worries, L’Engle famously rejected these arbitrary categories and insisted that her writing was for anyone, regardless of age. She believed that children could often understand concepts that would baffle adults, due to their childlike ability to use their imaginations with the unknown.
6. MEG MURRY WAS ONE OF SCIENCE FICTION'S FIRST GREAT FEMALE PROTAGONISTS ...
… and that scared publishers even more. L’Engle believed that the relatively uncommon choice of a young heroine contributed to her struggles getting the book in stores since men and boys dominated science fiction.
Nevertheless, the author stood by her heroine and consistently promoted acceptance of one’s unique traits and personality. When A Wrinkle in Time won the 1963 Newbury Award, L’Engle used her acceptance speech to decry forces working for the standardization of mankind, or, as she so eloquently put it, “making muffins of us, muffins like every other muffin in the muffin tin.” L’Engle’s commitment to individualism contributed to the very future of science fiction. Without her we may never have met The Hunger Games’s Katniss Everdeen or Divergent’s Tris Prior.
7. THE MURKY GENRE HELPED MAKE THE BOOK A SUCCESS.
Once A Wrinkle in Time hit bookstores, its slippery categorization stopped being a drawback. The book was smart enough for adults without losing sight of the storytelling elements kids love. A glowing 1963 review in The Milwaukee Sentinel captured this sentiment: “A sort of space age Alice in Wonderland, Miss L’Engle’s book combines a warm story of family life with science fiction and a most convincing case for nonconformity. Adults who still enjoy Alice will find it delightful reading along with their youngsters.”
Although the other four novels are not as well known as A Wrinkle in Time, the “Time Quintet” is a favorite of science fiction fans. The series, written over a period of nearly 30 years, follows the Murry family’s continuing battle over evil forces.
9. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY BANNED BOOKS OF ALL TIME.
Oddly enough, A Wrinkle in Time has been accused of being both too religious and anti-Christian. L’Engle’s particular brand of liberal Christianity was deeply rooted in universal salvation, a view that some critics have claimed “denigrates organized Christianity and promotes an occultic world view.” There have also been objections to the use of Jesus Christ’s name alongside figures like Buddha, Shakespeare, and Gandhi. Detractors feel that grouping these names together trivializes Christ’s divine nature.
10. L’ENGLE LEARNED TO SEE THE UPSIDE OF THIS CONTROVERSY.
The author revealed how she felt about all this sniping in a 2001 interview with The New York Times. She brushed it aside, saying, “It seems people are willing to damn the book without reading it. Nonsense about witchcraft and fantasy. First I felt horror, then anger, and finally I said, 'Ah, the hell with it.' It's great publicity, really.''
11. THE SCIENCE FICTION HAS INSPIRED SCIENCE FACTS.
American astronaut Janice Voss once told L’Engle that A Wrinkle in Time inspired her career path. When Voss asked if she could bring a copy of the novel into space, L’Engle jokingly asked why she couldn’t go, too.
Inspiring astronauts wasn’t L’Engle’s only out-of-this-world achievement. In 2013 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) honored the writer’s memory by naming a crater on Mercury’s south pole “L’Engle.”
12. A STAR-STUDDED MOVIE ADAPTATION WILL HIT THEATERS IN 2018.
Although L’Engle was famously skeptical of film adaptations of the novel, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay (13th; Selma) is bringing a star-filled version of the book to the big screen next year. Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Mindy Kaling, and Zach Galifianakis are among the film's stars. It's due in theaters on March 9, 2018.