On the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade

by Daniel Hartley

The leather covers have just enough friction to grip, just enough rigidity to compel respect, yet just enough flexibility not to overimpose themselves. You can’t mishandle a Pléiade like you would a cheap paper-back thriller, but nor do you have to go out of your way to adapt yourself to it: it moulds itself to your hands without you even realising that it’s doing so.

The pages are luxuriously thin. They whisper ‘Noli me tangere’. By touching them you might break them, violate them somehow. Under certain lights, they project slight sheens, the black print disappearing momentarily beneath the white shimmer, teasing the eye: brief reminders that you are not in control here, knowing winks from the hidden guardians of the page.

The margins are too narrow to write in, and in any case to put pencil to this paper would be to risk destruction. You do not interact with these books, you do not scribe yourself into them. The margins are symbolic: untouchable blank borders whose sole function is to facilitate the passive absorption of dead Masters, or – rather – their absorption of you.

Second by second and hour by hour, these fragile, voluptuous vampires imbibe your blood. They ensure their Immortality.