21 November 2007

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, 1994.

Louis De Bernieres. CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN. Secker and Warburg, London, 1994 (ISBN: 0436201585)

Current Selling Prices
$400 - $700 /£200-£350

The story of a peaceful and remote Greek island (Cephallonia) impacted first by Italian occupation and then German and communist forces during World War II. A huge hit that inspired incredible loyalty and devotion among its champions. Top lovey Richard Eyre declared that he could not love someone who did not like the novel and handed out copies to all his actors at the National etc., House prices in Cephallonia climbed steeply -- how many novels can affect the housing market? Some were less enthusiastic, one wag called de Bernieres 'the new Paul Gallico' and some were underwhelmed by its prose and plot or put off by it's magic realism schtick. Certainly it was made into a forgettable movie, poorly received by critics and the general public - the NY Post called it 'a howling dog'. It was also described as '...one of the year's most embarrassing big-budget miscalculations'. It cost $100 million to make.

VALUE? A 'netblown' book. It has made as much as £900( $1850) in auction (June 2001 Bloomsbury) but can now be bought in the (presumed) first state white boards and fine in jacket (sometimes even signed) at no more than £300 ($625). It was a question, as always, of supply and demand--too many copies were printed and when it was selling for £500 they just kept surfacing until the punters were no longer around to buy it at that price. The crapness of the film didn't help. Even Louis didn't like it. The amusing thing is that there are still dealers trying to get £700+ for the book and they almost always insist that it was made into a great movie, a palpable hit e.g. this blagueur "...the film, starring Nicholas Cage, was a great hit a few years ago, and is still one of the benchmarks for romance and war movies."

In 2007 about 5 copies have appeared at terrestrial auctions making from £110 to £334 with an average of about £150--the high result was from Edinburgh where there may be a lag factor--it is not uncommon to see good prices made in the provinces for books that have died in London. Possibly somewhere titanic bidding battles still break out for Tombleson's Rhine and bound Art Journals which in London now get lotted with a dozen other books.

TRIVIA. Last year, the book received a mauling at the hands of the communist daily 'Morning Star.' Accused by Andrew Murray, former spin-doctor to the transport union leader Bill Morris, of writing a book of "the most crude and brazen anti-communism" and being an "apologist for the excesses of the right in Greece", the seriously riled LDB lashed back giving as good as he got. "How long are you people going to sit in the dark in an air-pocket, wanking each other off?" de Bernières demanded to know in a reader's letter. "Your ship has sunk, brothers," he declared, adding that he was "delighted to receive a hostile notice from your paper". Rave on, it's a crazy feeling.


Martin Amis said...

A book that everybody wants to own, and nobody wants to read.

profbernie said...

Oh dear. Your review of de Bernieres Corelli reads: " ... some were underwhelmed by it's prose and plot or put off by it's magic realism schtick." Eats shoots and leaves? Doesn't help your literary credibility.

Bookride said...

It's my mishtake, prof! Us blogsters have no editors except the posse from the punctuation department of the perpetual patrollers of the web...