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The Book of Jade

David Park Barnitz

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Anyone who reads The Book of Jade will quickly notice a few things: the author of this collection of poems holds a pessimistic, misanthropic view of life, and his obsessions lean towards the macabre, particularly focusing on themes of death, darkness, graves, corpses, and a longing to rest among the worms. The collection presents a world where God is portrayed as foolish, other people as imbeciles, and the fate of the dead as something to be envied. Certainly not light-hearted fare!

Although The Book of Jade was initially published anonymously, it didn’t take long for readers to discover the identity of its author when the obituary of David Park Barnitz, a young oriental studies scholar who passed away mere weeks after the book’s publication, admitted as much. Though somewhat uneven in quality, the work has garnered admiration from figures such as H. P. Lovecraft, Donald Wandrei, and Clark Ashton Smith, firmly establishing its place in the canon of decadent literature.

This edition includes all the poems of the original 1901 edition, as well as the poem “After-Life,” which was published in Overland Monthly.

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