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Monday, March 22, 2010

Original Manuscript Of The Book Alcoholics Anonymous Sold

If someone asked you the question, "What are the most influential works of writing in history?", you might think of something different than me. There are countless books that have sparked revolutions on a global scale; religious, scientific, and philosophical books all have made an everlasting impression on society. In attempt to protect the existence of original manuscripts, collectors will keep these historical treasures locked away out of the public's eye. Private collectors with large bank rolls have the ability to purchase pieces of history.

Recently I came across an interesting blog post from a few years ago that raised some provocative questions, questions I thought to be a worthy topic for today's post. The post discussed a Sotheby's auction from 2007 where The “Master Copy” of the Original Manuscript of the book of Alcoholics Anonymous sold in New York City for the hammer price of $850,000. Sotheby's obtained the 1938 document from an A.A. member, Joseph B. He said his aunt, an A.A. member who knew Bill Wilson (A.A's co-founder), gave him the manuscript. Joseph B. claimed that he attempted to find interest for the manuscript within A.A., but "ran into a lot of brick walls, a lot of dead ends." My first thought or rather, question was, why isn't this going into a museum to be studied and visible to the public? Who would be the individual that would have the honor of owning what has been considered perhaps the most profound and influential work of writing from the twentieth century; and finally, what would the person who purchased the manuscript do with it?

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous coupled with 70 years of fine tuning aided by many expansionary writings has been the keystone in the recovery of countless alcoholics. Hundreds of 12-Step programs were modeled after the principals of A.A., principals which can be adopted free of charge. In June of 2007, Ken R, a wealthy commodities teacher who retired in 2006, purchased what he calls “the ultimate commodity: There’s only one of Bill Wilson’s original working manuscript!" When he referred to the manuscript as a commodity I thought surely he would hide this away in his vault, but, I was wrong; Ken R created a website dedicated to the original manuscript, which he has dubbed "the holy grail". “This is one of the most significant manuscripts of all time! It’s divinely inspired, has helped millions of people, and I’m surely not one to hide this light under a bushel! No, this is not something to lock away in a vault somewhere . . . .”

The fact of the matter is, after two years there does not seem to be much that has been made available by Ken R regarding the manuscript. There are a couple sneak peak pictures of the writing with editing from A.A.'s original members on the sides, but, really not a whole lot. This is testament to why one of the most influential writings of all time belongs in a museum not in private hands. What are your thoughts?

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