Readers addicted to make-believe know that in many works of literary fiction there are fictional literary works; offhand or sometimes strategic references to book titles that do not exist. I suppose it’s become a parlour game to ferret them out and make lists; perhaps even to invent your own. Predictably, there is a Wikipedia page devoted to the topic — which ought to be growing daily. [For some reason, Latin authors are inclined toward imagining the imaginary: viz., Jorge Luis Borges, Roberto Bolaño, and Antonio Machado, and certainly others. Sad that I can’t read Spanish; and my penchant for composing sonnets in Portuguese has faded dramatically with the passing years.]
Accumulating lists of fictional works that appear in (and only in) works of fiction is a cottage industry. In addition to the Wikipedia page, three sites I can recommend are “Art & Popular Culture“, “The Invisible Library” and an on-line blog “Underneath the Bunker“. Clearly, in this realm I am the interloper.
Since the Agincourt Public Library is itself a work of architectural fiction, however, it seems only proper that its shelves be stocked with these titles, as many as I can find and a few that I’ve invented myself. Feel free to contribute:
SELECTIONS FROM THE CARD CATALOGUE OF THE AGINCOURT PUBLIC LIBRARY:
- ACROTERION, Daphne (PhD, rescinded), Re-Analysis of the Late Carolingian Iconography in the North Transept of l’Eglise du St Framboise-sur-la-Têtê, at Saint-Étienne-de-Baïgorry, Midi-Pyrénées, France (1957). This obscure work of art history was a refinement of Acroterion’s doctoral dissertation at the Université de Bordeaux. Most copies were withdrawn, however, and destroyed when her admission references to the graduate school were found to have been forged and her admission essay plagiarized from the letters and travel diaries of Mary Todd Lincoln.
- BACON, FRANCIS (1st Viscount St. Alban), Treatise on Wireless Telegraphy.
- BOLLINI, Ferruccio, Le stampe private di San Marino, Caligari Editori S.p.A., Venezia, IT (1922) [The Private Presses of San Marino]. Under its agreement with the Italian State, publishing is forbidden in the Republic of San Marino, therefore these are not “private” presses so much as they are illicit, illegal and their proprietors are subject to imprisonment.
- CALDEIRA, F[rancis] X[avier], Necropolitan Ephemera (1953). A collection of poetry by the translator of V. M. Straka’s novels.
- CRABTREE, Avery, Tennants in America, a prosopographic appreciation (2000). A very limited edition history [copies in the single digits] of the Tennant family from their ignominious origin on Sark in the Channel Islands to the Millennium. Crabtree is a pseudonym. To date, there is no evidence that the book has ever circulated, let alone been touched. Indeed, it was never intended for circulation beyond the family — there being little danger of that happening.
- DA VINCI, LEONARDO, Notes on Modern Engineering.
- HERODOTUS, History of England to the First Crusade.
- JOHNSON, SAMUEL, Dr., Carlisle.
- MACHIAVELLI, Despatches from the South African Campaign.
- MILLSTONE JENNINGS, Paula Nancy, Musings (1976). The sole published anthology of Millstone Jennings’ poetry. [This copy once owned by Douglas Adams, with his bookplate.]
- PAYNE-ELLIS, Evelyn, The Rose of Raby (1937). A factionalized biography of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York.
- PLATO, Dialogue on “Tristan und Isolde”.
- RAMSAY, R.H.L.M., It’s Not About Me: an autobiography (2002). The author challenged himself to write an autobiography without using first person singular pronouns (I, me, my, or mine).
- SCRIBNER, Bartleby d’Ascoyne, Gulliver Jimson: A Catalogue Raisonné (1954). The crepuscular Jimson made the “angry young men” of Britain’s “Kitchen Sink” movement seem downright wholesome and upbeat.
- SEALING, Batson D. (PhD), Our Savior Said: an anthology of Jesus’s utterances (1991). A translation from spurious Coptic texts — that is, the texts are spurious, not the Copts.
- SOMERSAULT-MALM, Clive, “Six Pronouns in Search of an Antecedent — a comedy in three obscene acts” (1967) [unpublished typescript]. The League of Decency shut down the first off-off-Broadway production of this play whilst the cast were still rehearsing at an unspecified and probably top secret location in the New Jersey “Meadowlands”. Though the characters are pronouns, their actions involve a considerable number of impolite gerunds and lewd dangling participles. Adds new meaning to “figures of speech”. And serves as a handbook for those who’ve been advised to ignore anatomical issues and “Go fuck yourself!”
- STRAKA, V.M., The Ship of Theseus, NY, Winged Shoes Press (1949). Last of the novels by Straka, it is part of a collection of all nineteen books, perhaps the library’s most valuable non-circulating assets — under lock and key, with good reason. The tip of a treasure.
- TACITUS, Scripturæ de Populis Consociatis Americæ Septentrionalis.
- τεθνήκαμεν. σώζετε δάκρυα ζώσιν. [translation: “We are dead. Save tears for the living.”] This “guestbook” and memorial album from The Shades, Agincourt’s non-sectarian cemetery, ought to more properly be housed at the Fennimore County History Center.
- THORSBY, E. Aytch, Temperance: My Deathbed Conversion, (1912). Third son of minor British nobility, this “remittance man” died at North Dakota’s State Mental Hospital in Jamestown — really. He was buried at the Jamestown cemetery with full Masonic honors. “Thorsby” is a thinly veiled pseudonym for the actual author, whose sad decline ought not be a source of profit or other personal gain for anyone.
- THUCYDIDES, Pericles’ Oration at the Coronation of Edward the Seventh.
- TROUT, Kilgore, Maniacs in the Fourth Dimension. “It was about people whose mental diseases couldn’t be treated because the causes of the diseases were all in the fourth dimension, and three-dimensional Earthling doctors couldn’t see those causes at all, or even imagine them.”
- WHITMAN, WALT, Grandee Spain Succumbing.