Sunday, October 18, 2009

"That book? Oh, it's shelved over there under 'Hounding Doom'," or, A volume for the John Bellairs Memorial Wing of the Invisible Library

{Photo by rocketlass.}

From Robert E. Howard's "The Black Stone" (1931):
I read of it first in the strange book of Von Junzt, the German eccentric who lived so curiously and died in such grisly and mysterious fashion. It was my fortune to have access to his Nameless Cults in the original edition, the so-called Black Book, published in Dusseldorf in 1839, shortly before a hounding doom overtook the author. Collectors of rare literature are familiar with Nameless Cults mainly through the cheap and faulty translation which was pirated in London by Bridewall in 1845, and the carefully expurgated edition put out by the Golden Goblin Press of New York in 1909. But the volume I stumbled upon was one of the unexpurgated German copies, with heavy leather covers and rusty iron hasps. I doubt if there are more than half a dozen such volumes in the entire world today, for the quantity issued was not great, and when the manner of the author's demise was bruited about, many possessors of the book burned their volumes in panic.
And that fate which so scared poor Von Junzt's readers? Oh, only to be found dead in a locked room, "with the marks of taloned fingers on his throat," the torn remains of the many pages of cribbed writing that he had not dared to include in Nameless Curses scattered about him. Lest you think the narrator is over-reacting, that Von Junzt's researches couldn't have been that bad, he informs us that,
the author's closest friend, the Frenchman Alexis Laduea, after having spent a whole night piecing the fragments together and reading what was written, burnt them to ashes and cut his own throat with a razor.
Um, Ed, I'm just going to leave this one here on the book cart for now; shelving it seems a task better accomplished in the daytime, no?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. NAMELESS CULTS is already in the Invisible Library, alas -- under its German title!

    (Thanks to HPL! I'm trying to remember if Lovecraft, or one of their other friends -- Robert E. Bloch? -- did the German translation...)