This edition of the text is dedicated to Jehkin Fairheaven.
"Of the Damned" is a 1344 text comprised of a number of works collected by an unknown male author, a Christian monk of the Byacene tradition. It is unknown how the author gained access to most of the pieces collected in "Of the Damned"; in his personal letters (carefully hidden from his compatriots), he claims to have been on friendly terms with many of the authors, including some who appear to have died before his birth.
"Of the Damned" purports to be a collection of stories of many of the notable denizens of Hell, and is framed by a half-hearted Inferno-esque series of essays labeled "Topology of Underworld". However, upon even a cursory reading of the text, it is clear that it is in reality a collection of rare texts created by this monk framed in such a way that his Christian brethren would not object to the texts' continued existence. This lends the book much of its value; it is the only surviving source for many texts deemed heretical, heathen or Satanic and eradicated by Christian and Cerulean Brotherhood zealots in the so-called 'Dark Ages' (see "The Rose's Thorns" and "Brilliant Supremacy" for further discussion of related religious activity during this time period).
Two distinct versions of the book appear to have been originally created. One, the standard text, and two, the revised text, in which the author alters the text to conform to his moral standards. Notably, all heroic or leadership figures of female, multiple, cthonic, or other gender, are listed as male in the revised text. All lovers who are not heterosexual either have their gender/s changed, or are transformed to relatives, typically to brothers or cousins. All instances of swearing on a deity's name are changed to obscure words considered by the author to be inoffensive, and all instances of reference to a creator deity are changed to 'God'. Key elements of many of the stories have also been altered; for instance, the act of sexual intercourse never takes place (leading to certain obvious inconsistencies, notably in the de Luve passages of "Son of Mine").
The standard text does not appear to have been intended for wide dissemination, but meant to exist only in the author's personal collection. However, both versions were stolen, and many sections extensively annotated by the thief, who appears to have also been a scholar, and who also spread many copies of both versions of the text amongst her community, and significantly expanded the original with additions of her own. Other annotations have been made throughout the centuries, some by unknown personages and some by scholars as great as Synache and Grace Plutarch III.
"Of the Damned" is also notable because of the sheer number of variations of both text versions which have been discovered or collected which originate from separate realities connected to our own by the Ways. The majority of the books in the Library exist in many incarnations, but "Of the Damned" represents a very high degree of variation for such a significant text. Refer to Section 16 of Tennyson's "Platonic Warfare" for further dissection of some of the great scholarly conflicts over which variation of the text is 'prime'. Currently a majority of the Astrological scholars agree that the Lutheran manuscript is Prime, but the Shah minority argues that the Prime text is the Red Sea version, and Zenith, Byronic, and Leviathan manuscripts all have their proponents.
My dear Owens,
Relaying this introduction to you upon request.
I of course think that the Sun Scholar's bias is plain, but in the interests of brevity, I will only point out the silliness of her referring to Terra Unalia as the "Prime" reality. One would think that such a scholar would not indulge so freely such ethnocentric bias, but there we are. (For God's sake, they don't even have a New York there!) Naturally, in other aspects her illumination is still authoritative.
I know you are still traveling and I hope this message finds you well. Drop me a line on the network when you return to the Library.
Association of Wanderers, Third Chapter
Violet Lantern Waystation, Los Angeles, California