Friday, July 24, 2009

The alternate Dewey Decimal System

Ed Park on invisible libraries (courtesy of Matthew B.):
In “The Haunter of the Dark” (1936), the unfortunate protagonist stumbles upon shelves of “mildewed, disintegrating books” — “the banned and dreaded repositories of equivocal secrets and immemorial formulae.” These include “a Latin version of the abhorred ‘Necronomicon,’ the sinister ‘Liber Ivonis,’ the infamous ‘Cultes des Goules’ of Comte d’Erlette, the ‘Unaussprechlichen Kulten’ of von Junzt, and old Ludvig Prinn’s hellish ‘De Vermis Mysteriis.’ ” The titular details — the sinister-looking double i’s in “Mysteriis,” the rebarbative German tag of von Junzt’s work — are arguably as chilling as the overwrought prose Lovecraft sometimes discharges.


  1. Hi! An interesting side note is that several of those titles were invented, in the spirit of Lovecraft, by his friends (Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard), and initially (I think) used in *their* stories.

    Word verification for this comment is an actual word: GAMBIT!

  2. Yes, it was a collective game. As a self-educated dilettante, the allure of this material must have been especially powerful for Lovecraft. Interestingly Lovecraft got the idea of an imaginary book so horrible that it changed the fate of its readers from another author's imaginary book, Robert W. Chambers' The King in Yellow, which did change Lovecraft's fate, if that makes any sense.