The Invisible Library

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The Invisible Library

Redigerat: jul 9, 2009, 5:22 pm

I propose to start a special Legacy Library. Not quite a dead or fictional person, but a library of fictional books:

The Invisible Library

A collection of books which only exist as references or excerpts in other books, such as The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein, in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. There's a blog about this, with an exhibition in progress in London.

If this seems a bad idea, or beyond the rules, let me know; I haven't actually done any of the setup to start this yet.

jul 9, 2009, 9:32 pm

I like the idea - not quite a "Legacy Library" per se, but we can definitely put it on the lists and promote it. You may want to start a wiki page and use that to collect the references.

jul 10, 2009, 6:54 am

It might be a good idea to think carefully about the scope and organisation before starting, because there are potentially huge numbers of "works". I started doing fictional books, plays and films mentioned in P.G. Wodehouse once, and together with other people in the PGW discussion group we got up to 315 items before we ran out of steam. (Table "Rosie M. Banks Library" under - you might need to join the group to see it)

You could use Collections to group works mentioned by particular writers, I suppose.

jul 10, 2009, 7:04 am

Yes, this would be a humongous project. Could be fun though.

But I wouldn't be comfortable with it being under the "Legacy Library" banner. It's more like the "Banned Books Library" (

jul 10, 2009, 7:16 am

Looking back at what we did for the RMBL, the other issue would be that the bibliographic data for a lot of these works just isn't up to LT standard. Often all you have is a quick mention of the title. We also found that Wodehouse would recycle, or partially recycle, these made-up titles, assigning them to different writers in different places. And on at least one occasion there was something that had different titles in two different versions of the same novel. Could get very messy, and there wouldn't really be much added value from having it in LT. The only places where you can do combinations would be where someone has later written a real book based on the imaginary book in the reference, like The reminiscences of Galahad Threepwood.

Redigerat: jul 10, 2009, 7:24 am

Yeah there's a whole LT group on this ( - (not just on the fictional books, but others mentioned too). So the scope will be important (key, really), and I agree with BarkingMatt that it's a slightly different animal than a Legacy Library. But that's perfectly okay.

Thorold's point in #5 is important to consider as well; it follows naturally from #3. It might be advisable to start off with a disparate project, rather than envisioning an entire "Invisible Library" as such.

To some degree, the format used in the blog mentioned in #1 might be really the best option for something like this, since these aren't actually real books anyway (says the person who entered a hoax library). I think however you tackle it, setting parameters will be very important.

jul 10, 2009, 7:24 am

The only places where you can do combinations would be where someone has later written a real book based on the imaginary book in the reference, like The reminiscences of Galahad Threepwood.

Actually I think that type of combination should be avoided. The "Necronomicon" - mentioned by H.P. Lovecraft - has several of these, none of which conform to the book he was writing about (and very different, so they shouldn't even get combined to each other).

jul 10, 2009, 8:02 am

Maybe add a qualifier (fictional book) or something like that to avoid mis-combination?

jul 10, 2009, 1:07 pm

Thorold - I'm not familiar with the Wodehouse problem, though it almost seems that a separate legacy library could be created for Wodehouse's creations. (Perhaps Borges', too? I'm not sure how many fictional books he actually gave enough information to create an entry.)

BarkingMatt - obviously it isn't a proper "Legacy Library", but, provided Tim agrees, the mechanics should be about the same. I'd even adopt, with some modifications, the Banned Books Library rules.

For starters, we should tag every entry with "fictional book". There should also be sufficient information to create an entry; we might even want to limit entries to those which are excerpted, not just mentioned, in the books in which they appear.

jul 10, 2009, 1:25 pm

#4, #9, yes, it is not a Legacy Library given that nobody ever owned these books.

I wonder what to do about fictional books like Venus on the Half-Shell where somebody then writes an actual book to fit the spec. This seems a bit different from playful hoax books like Necronomicon which don't mimic the fictional book closely: I haven't heard of anybody being carried off by Great Old Ones after reading Simon's book.

I suppose hoaxes in general are different from fictional books, e.g. Ossian.

jul 10, 2009, 2:59 pm

>9 argyriou: "For starters, we should tag every entry with "fictional book"."

Tags don't show up when doing work combining, though, so there needs to be another easy way to tell the difference between Inkheart (the fictional book) and Inkheart.

jul 10, 2009, 6:55 pm

>8 Katya0133:,9,11 "fictional book" - To be any use for avoiding wrong combinations, it would have to be in the title, as Katya suggests, but that is very ugly - you end up with a library that looks as though it was imported from Amazon. Another thing: we can't be confident that everyone who does combining is aware of the subtle but vital difference between a fictional work and a work of fiction. So it might well not work, even if we put it in the title.

>10 bertilak:
Another version of this problem, which I don't think is unique to Wodehouse: there are a couple of examples where the fictional work has the same title as the work that refers to it (e.g. a shocking, Forever Amber-type novel called Cocktail Time plays an important role in the plot of Wodehouse's novel Cocktail Time). I'm sure they would end up combined, whatever you try to do to prevent it.

Even worse, Wodehouse refers at one point to a fictional non-fiction book by a writer with his own name (Wodehouse On the Niblick, see the story "Jane Gets off the Fairway"), so we'd have to do an author split between the real and meta authors on the PGW page. I think Jasper Fforde does things like that as well.

There isn't a really simple way to link from the real book to the fictional books it mentions and v.v. if the fictional books are in a library, at present (can you put links in the comments field?). Maybe using a collection of Wiki pages, as Jeremy suggested, might be simpler and safer than a library.

jul 21, 2009, 7:58 pm

One way to limit the size of the collection is to only accept books which are excerpted, not just mentioned.

I've started a wiki page at - after it fills up a little, I'll ask again about making a Legacy-Library-like account.

okt 9, 2021, 8:07 am