Schweitzer, Albert, receives HRH, 199; performs
organ solo for HRH, 201; discusses quest for the
historical Jesus with HRH, 203–11; HRH compared
to by Leonard Bernstein, 245; expels HRH, 246
In 1990 JG Ballard published a collection of short stories called War Fever. Mixed in with the familiar Ballardian tales of time standing still, dead astronauts, and abandoned hotel swimming pools on the edge of the desert, there are several experimental pieces, one of which is a fragment called The Index. This story consists of nothing but a five-page index purporting to be all that remains of the suppressed autobiography of a man, Henry Rhodes Hamilton (HRH), tried in secret for revolutionary activity. It offers tantalising glimpses into the life and times of this mysterious messianic figure, and provides (literally) a fine illustration of a biographical index that is readable in itself, continuously, almost as a supplementary chapter to the book it indexes.
A few weeks back I mentioned Shelley Rohde’s biography of L.S. Lowry, which contains an index entry to an event that doesn’t occur in the book. This
notion of indexing non-existent material has stayed with me.
In the index to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves there are around 100 entries consisting of a single word followed by the page
locator DNE, which almost certainly stands for DOES NOT EXIST. In other words, the index provides us with a list of words that aren’t in the book.
David A. Green is a freelance indexer living in Petersfield, Hampshire.
The Indexed Word
Random thoughts about books, indexes, and book indexing.