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Harvard library includes book bound in human skin

Harvard Library Includes Book Bound In Human Skin

Never judge a book by its cover. Unless it's this one, anyway.

Al Jazeera: "Something that might make your skin crawl ... a book cover made of human skin. The Houghton Library's copy of Arsene Houssaye's 'Des destinees de l'ame' is without a doubt bound in human skin."

That's right. Harvard University experts said they're 99 percent sure their library's 19th century Houssaye text was indeed bound by human flesh. But it wasn't the author's doing.

According to Houghton Library, the French writer gave the unbound text to a close friend, Dr. Ludovic Bouland, back in the 1880's.

The Library said Bouland later bound the book "with skin from the unclaimed body of a female mental patient who had died of a stroke."

So ... why would you do a thing like that?

The Harvard Crimson explains Houssaye's text is a collection of essays that go all metaphysical and contemplate the human spirit. Now, why is that important?

Luckily, The Atlantic points to Dr. Bouland's manuscript note explaining the creative book cover.

"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."

Believe it or not, it's not the first time human skin has been used in this way.

In 2006, this 300-year-old book bound with a slightly tanned epidermis was found in England.

And, according to the Houghton Library blog, skin-binding used to be a pretty regular practice dating back to 16th century.

Join the discussion

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bwess8 June 06 2014 at 1:23 AM

Most likely made from poor peoples skin and bones. Eat the rich before its to late.

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2 replies
hensteeth bwess8 June 06 2014 at 10:13 AM

But marinate first.

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mhdjl bwess8 June 06 2014 at 10:59 AM

Right about the middle of the printed version, it says the skin was from an unclaimed female mental patient of a Dr. Bouland.

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boardsrbetter June 06 2014 at 5:20 AM

"collection of essays that go all metaphysical and contemplate the human spirit"

Now i'm all for civil liberties.....

But did he have to get stoned BEFORE he started writing?

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3 replies
halt1025 June 06 2014 at 10:32 AM


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2 replies
Judith halt1025 June 06 2014 at 10:57 AM

Political comment on a non-political thread. Get over yourself.

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3 replies
Bob halt1025 June 06 2014 at 12:29 PM

Did you even read the article? There is nothing political about it. You seriously had to throw this in here? Do you live to bash the President. By the way, his name is spelled O-B-A-M-A.

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1 reply
ML Bob June 06 2014 at 2:48 PM

until a libtard blames Bush, then it's okay

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hey dick head June 06 2014 at 10:01 AM

and they needed to give Harvard money for this?! that's what makes my skin crawl

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1 reply
plumeria162 hey dick head June 06 2014 at 11:41 AM

Who are "they" and why shouldn't Harvard investigate their own library?

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JTalltrees1 June 06 2014 at 11:00 AM

my mother in law is missing her face!

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KB June 06 2014 at 10:38 AM


Just remember to say the three magic words before picking it up!

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1 reply
Jesse Cornett KB June 06 2014 at 1:58 PM

Klaatu... Verata... Ni-(cough, cough)-toommmnn....

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robcabob1 June 06 2014 at 1:44 PM

All the animals that Humans skin alive, That's okay by humans. But one or two books with human skin, EVERYBODY is crying. Why don't you cry when they skin any animal, they're usually alive.

Where is this mental Trip that humanity is having that we can't us Humans as reusable resources? Do you Even know what's exactly in that Burger King/McDonald's burger? how about KFC/Popeye's? Point is, if you don't know you don't care and stuff your face. This book is only a problem recently JUST BECAUSE of the human mind thinking irrational thoughts (I'm better then everything ever). I would like to touch that book and see how it looks as well. When Humans die, We stick poison in side the body that is SOOOO Toxic, you must bury a person in a box; or Destroy the earth around the body........ And that makes humans smarter... how? What will we do with humans When there is no place left to bury them? right now, Burning them or putting Toxic chemicals in their bodies is quite idiotic!

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1 reply
cqdeed robcabob1 June 06 2014 at 7:53 PM

What a bunch of BS. I know of no animal that is skinned alive and I have no doubt I have skinned a lot more animals than you have.

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R St. Thomas, MD June 06 2014 at 9:46 AM

"Here's the skinny on that book cover: Its sick."
Ilse Koch

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Mary June 06 2014 at 6:52 AM

I can just hear the character Buffalo Bill in the 'Silence of the Lambs' stating to the captive girl, "It puts the lotion on it's skin'...Creepy story.

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blackwheelturning June 06 2014 at 3:39 PM

I believe I have made a significant find in the Kandarian ruins, a volume of ancient Sumarian burial practices and funerary incantations. It is entitled "Naturum De Montum", roughly translated: Book of the Dead. The book is bound in human flesh and inked in human blood. It deals with demons and demon resurrection and those forces which roam the forest and dark bowers of Man's domain. The first few pages warn that these enduring creatures may lie dormant but are never truly dead. They may be recalled to active life through the incantations presented in this book. It is through the recitation of these passages that the demons are given license to possess the living. I have seen the dark shadows moving in the woods and I have no doubt that whatever I have resurrected through this book is sure to come calling for me.

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