Now that’s what I call a rare book

The BBC has details of a book coming up at auction – nothing unusual there, obviously. Except this 1605 book “A True and Perfect Relation of The Whole Proceedings against the Late most barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and his Confederats” is thought to be bound in human skin – specifically the skin of Henry Garnet, a Jesuit priest caught up in the Gunpowder Plot (although he was widely held not be an actual part of it, wanting nothing to do with such a violent act). Even more macabre, the wrinkles on the cover allegedly give the impression of a human face, a human face with large eyes, just like Henry was said to possess… Cue Twilight Zone music! Man, I’ve sold a lot of very specially bound editions over the years in the trade (and have a few myself) but that’s taking it a bit too far… I wonder if some anti-aging cosmetic cream companies will consider it for their next beauty books…

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard 10
Originally uploaded by byronv2

Since it is Halloween, the night when the realms of the living, the dead and the supernatural intersect, I thought I’d stick up one of my more Gothic images from my Flickr set.

Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll! — a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear? — weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read — the funeral song be sung! —
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young —
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

“Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
“And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her — that she died!
“How shall the ritual, then, be read? — the requiem how be sung

“By you — by yours, the evil eye, — by yours, the slanderous tongue
“That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?”

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel so wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride —
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes —
The life still there, upon her hair — the death upon her eyes.

“Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
“But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!
“Let no bell toll! — lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
“Should catch the note, as it doth float — up from the damned Earth.
“To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven —
“From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven —
“From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.”

“Lenore”, Edgar Alan Poe, 1845