David Van Biema
Whenever Alfonse Borysewicz addresses a fresh canvas, a daunting set of issues stares back at him.
On a dark, damp and expensive Tuesday night at Sotheby’s auction house in Manhattan, one of the 11 surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in English in America, (and the first book of Scripture) was sold for the highest price ever recorded for a print book in open sale, $14.2 million (for a bid of $12.5 million, plus fees).
That price was a million dollars more than the $11.5 million paid for the previous record-holder, John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” in 2010.
On Sept. 5, 1997, the world mourned when Mother Teresa, whose work with the poorest of the poor made her a global icon, died of a heart ailment at age 87.
Exactly 10 years later, the world did a double-take when a volume of Teresa's private letters revealed that the tireless, smiling nun spent the last 39 years of her life in internal agony. Jesus, she wrote, no longer seemed present to her, in prayer or even in the Eucharist. In letter after tormented letter she described an unrelenting spiritual "dryness," a "torturing pain." Her smile was "a big cloak" of deception. She admitted at one point to doubting God's existence. Eventually, she apparently became more reconciled to her condition; but as far as we know, she died with it.