A copy of French novelist and poet Arsène Houssaye’s book, Des destinées de l’ame, resides in Harvard’s Houghton Library. After running tests on it conservators are now 99% sure the binding is made of human flesh.
Here’s a photo of the book:
Tests prove book about the human soul is definitely bound in human skin http://t.co/BX2Bhsea4x pic.twitter.com/2WPdMa4FrB
— Harvard Library (@HarvardLibrary) June 5, 2014
There’s an explanation, according to Harvard’s blog. The author’s friend who has the book bound left and explanation inscribed in it:
“This book is bound in human skin parchment on which no ornament has been stamped to preserve its elegance. By looking carefully you easily distinguish the pores of the skin. A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering: I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman. It is interesting to see the different aspects that change this skin according to the method of preparation to which it is subjected. Compare for example with the small volume I have in my library, Sever. Pinaeus de Virginitatis notis which is also bound in human skin but tanned with sumac.”
I know it was the 1800s and times were different, but how do you have the skin from a woman’s back laying around? Ugh.