There are Literary Ghosts in the Library

Literary Ghosts LibraryHalloween is getting closer every day and Monmouth University is quickly transitioning from the September back-to-school posters into spooky events and exhibits. Monmouth’s Guggenheim Library is featuring its own exhibit, showcasing all of the classic horror and gothic stories.

Located on the second floor across the hall from the university librarian’s office, students will find a grotesque poster featuring a disturbing skull taken from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher to get students in the Halloween mood. The exhibit is going to be running from now until Halloween.

George Germek, the Director of the Special Collections and Rare Book Room, has created a list of classic horror stories and has assigned myself, as well graduate assistant Robert Zadotti, to create the display and respective signs.

Zadotti, a graduate arts and creative writing student, noted, “Though the display is not completely gothic in a literary sense, the display is gothic in that it celebrates horror in literature.”

When one thinks of horror, immediately poltergeists and zombies appear in their mind. In the world of literature, those freakish scenarios are expressed in a vivid way. The illustrations depicted help readers to envision the unique nature of the author’s descriptions.

To help readers really see these horrors, illustrators are hired to etch, paint, draw, or even make woodcuts of disturbing or aesthetically pleasing images relative to the text. What is special about these horror stories, in relevance to the exhibit itself, is that the publication works to feature both the text and illustrations in conjunction.

Included among the novels and poems are: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dante’s Inferno, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and other famous horror works. These stories are more than just the Penguin classics you read during high school. The Rare Book Room has special editions, sometimes even limitedly published, that feature specialized illustrations.

The skull featured on the poster, for example, was etched by Alice Neel specifically for that publication. Only 1,500 copies are in existence from the Limited Editions Club, a prominent publisher in the collection.

The most notable author in the horror genre is Edgar Allen Poe. The exhibit will feature The Raven, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, and Tales of Mystery and Imagination. All of these works are accompanied by illustrations more disturbing than the last.

“Featuring special collections at the library brings attention to the seasons. With fall coming on, this is an amazing opportunity to display the interesting collection of horror books we have for people to enjoy and look at,” said Germek.

The Special Collections room has multiple displays throughout the semesters. Following the Halloween display will be a Christmas themed exhibit. The spring semester usually has miscellaneous spreads that change every year.

Professors may even request to have specialized exhibits for their classes, in which a smaller exhibit will be displayed inside the room itself. Here, specialized topics such as “Victorian literature,” “female authors,” or even “history of the book” are among many of the potential displays available.

Felipe Estrada, a sophomore English and secondary education student, said, “Everything is beautiful, especially the aesthetics of the illustrations; being in the room itself while looking at the texts is something unique.”

Not only would you have access to limited editions, but the room is an excellent tool for research assignments. The physical copy of the book and its physical attributes are primary sources not only for your English class essay, but for other disciplines such as art, history, and science. The Mumford collection is filled with different genres and topics and can be what sets your next essay apart from your peers.

If you find that you are interested in studying, analyzing, or just wanting to see the books in the flesh, come down to the Guggenheim Library and request to go into the Rare Book Room.

Germek would be happy to schedule an appointment and open the cases to books you want to look at. This includes the books featured in the horror exhibit.

Germek’s office is located on the first floor, in the offices in the microfilm section. You can also reach out to him via email at ggermek@monmouth.edu.

PHOTO TAKEN by Skylar Daley