Guide to fictional Libraries #2 The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Following the lead of The Matilda Project The Alibi Library has decided to produce a short series highlighting the work of some of the best fictional libraries:

In the book The Shadow of the WInd by Carlos Zafón, set in post–war Barcelona, Daniel Sempere is taken by his father to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge library of old, long lost titles lovingly preserved by a select few initiates.



I followed my father through the narrow lane, more of a scar then a street, until the glimmer of the Ramblas faded behind us. The brightness of dawn filtered down from the balconies and cornices in streaks of light that dissolved before touching the ground. At last my father stopped in front of a large door of carved wood, blackened by time and humidity.  Before us loomed what to my eyes seemed the carcass of a palace, a place of echoes and shadows.


The Building

Like Borge´s The Universe  the library seems to defy the rules of ordinary perspective:

A blue-tinted gloom obscured the sinuous contours of a marble suitcase and a gallery of frescoes peopled with angels and fabulous creatures. We followed our host through a palacial corridor and arrived at a sprawling round hall, a virtual basilica of shadows spiralling up under a high glass dome, its dimness pierced by shafts of light that stabbed from above us.  A labyrinth of passageways and crammed bookshelves rose from base to pinnacle like a beehive woven with tunnels, steps, platforms, and bridges that presaged an immense library of seemingly impossible geometry.


The Library Services

In the words of his father, Daniel is told that the library is:

“ a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul.  The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.  Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.  This place was already ancient when my father brought me here for the first time, many years ago.  Perhaps as old as the city itself.  Nobody knows for certain how long it has existed, or who created it.  I will tell you what my father told me, though.  When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here.  In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.  In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner.  Every book you see here has been somebody’s friend.


The Librarian

The librarian himself is: A smallish man with vulturine features framed by thick grey hair with an  impenetrable aquiline gaze.

The Clientele

The boy Daniel tells us:

I could make out about a dozen human figures scattered among the library’s corridors and platforms.  Some of them turned to greet me from afar, and I recognised the faces of various colleagues of my father’s, fellows of the secondhand-booksellers´guild.  To my ten-year-old eyes, they looked like a brotherhood of alchemists in furtive study.

scoutiegirl(Picture courtesy of Scoutiegirl and inspired by the Shadow of the Wind


According to tradition new members are expected to:

choose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive. It’s a very important promise.  For life.


More information about the library can  be found at the following links:

A walk around Barcelona related to the book:

A fantastic trailer for the hypothetical film:

On the website of the book you can find this really cool game:

Don´t miss the next in the series: # 3  J L Borges´ The Universe


4 thoughts on “Guide to fictional Libraries #2 The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

  1. Andrés Álvarez

    Delighted to be reading this!
    Love the above links, specially the fake trailer.
    (If I had to choose a book and adopt it, it would be “Tess of the d’Urberviles” by T. Hardy.)

    1. madridgigger

      Yes, like the trailer, too – suitablt gothic.
      Can fictional library #3 be the one from Ghostbusters, please?

  2. madridgigger

    Yep, the fake trailer´s great – suitably gothic.
    Can the next entry be on the library in Ghostbusters, please?


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