The archives of writers

Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia
Part 1:

When writers who are Baha'is die sometimes their work lives on in the papers, the manuscripts, the letters, indeed, in a wide range of memorabilia which they donate to some scholarly and secular institution, some Baha'i Centre of Learning or a Baha’i archive at the local, national or international level in the increasing labyrinth of elected and appointed institutions that have emerged in the last century and more of an evolving and expanding Baha’i administration, the nascent Faith of Baha'u'llah, the harbinger of the New World Order.

This is especially true in the new Baha'i culture of learning and growth, the evolving paradigm of the last two decades (1996-2016) in the more than 200 national communities and territories around the world. In the last two decades, 1995-2015, a number of internet sites have also been created, some by individual Baha'is and Baha'i institutions, and others by a host of interest groups, individuals and institutions, at which writers like myself can post or file their literary work. Such authors are assured, by these various means, of at least a modicum of earthly immortality, as much as one can be assured of anything in this transient and inconstant existence.

These several and various archives and this increasing number of institutional sites on the internet are collecting points for the manuscripts/correspondence of writers and authors, editors and publishers of various ilks. How such collections of papers change hands, find a monetary value if any, and obtain a secure place on some dry set of shelves, boxes and files, or a place in an electronic archive, is the result of a peculiar alchemy between market forces, literary reputations and the growing significance of this Faith and, as I say above, this harbinger of a New World Order.

Part 1.1

The typical archive of literary materials of a non-Baha’i writer of some degree of fame and significance, I am informed, was worth between $50,000 and $250,000 in New York or London in 2011. (1) At least that was the information I came across in The New York Times recently. Often that potential archive is not even saleable. The market in literary archives is a rarefied one and it is not my intention to discuss this subject here in any detail. Archives like mine are not saleable in any sense. If there is something extraordinary in a collection on sale, like possibly a cache of letters from the famous poet Sylvia Plath, the market currently draws on what is known as a price/value range. The book seller, or archive holder, decides where in that band, that range, the writer’s archive belongs. If an author has a literary correspondence with, say, 10 important people, that makes a big difference to the archive's sale price.

If the Baha’i Faith comes to play a significant role in world affairs in the decades and centuries ahead; if it comes to be what it now claims it will one day be, namely, the emerging world religion on this planet, my archive may come to have some value. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting. If I do, I will die due to a shortage of oxygen in connection with some health problem. The emergence from obscurity of this new world Faith has been significant in my lifetime, but it has seemed slow in many ways to its votaries in the more than sixty years in which I have been associated with its growth and consolidation around the planet.

When my mother first investigated the Baha'i Faith in 1953, 90 per cent of the then 200,000 Baha'is in the world at that time lived in Iran. More than sixty years later there are some 5 to 8 million Baha'is found for the most part outside Iran with perhaps 10 per cent of the international Baha'i community in the home of its birth, what used to be called Persia.(2)– Ron Price with thanks to (1) Rachel Donadio, “The Paper Chase,” The New York Times, March 25, 2007; and (2) See Wikipedia for a discussion of the complex subject of Baha'i Faith Statistics.
Jul 2011
n ireland
Ron your contributions to our "nascent " Faith will never be forgotten. You are owed a debt of gratitude although I know that gratitude is unwanted
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