Harvard Just Found Out A Book In Its Library Is Bound In Human Skin

A copy of French novelist and poet ArsΓ¨ne Houssaye’s book, Des destinΓ©es 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:

There’s an explanation, according to Harvard’s blog. The author’s friend who has the book bound left and explanation inscribed in it:

β€œThis 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. TC mark

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