The Music OF Erich Zann
H. P. Lovecraft
Written in December of 1921
Published in March of 1922
The National Amateur
The Music OF Erich Zann
I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d’Auseil.
These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I have, on the contrary,
delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place, and have personally explored every region, of
whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d’Auseil. But despite all I
have done, it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality,
where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I
heard the music of Erich Zann.
That my memory is broken, I do not wonder; for my health, physical and mental, was gravely disturbed
throughout the period of my residence in the Rue d’Auseil, and I recall that I took none of my few
acquaintances there. But that I cannot find the place again is both singular and perplexing; for it was
within a half-hour’s walk of the university and was distinguished by peculiarities which could hardly
be forgotten by any one who had been there. I have never met a person who has seen the Rue d’Auseil.
The Rue d’Auseil lay across a dark river bordered by precipitous brick blear-windowed warehouses
and spanned by a ponderous bridge of dark stone. It was always shadowy along that river, as if the
smoke of neighboring factories shut out the sun perpetually. The river was also odorous with evil
stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere, and which may some day help me to find it, since I
should recognize them at once. Beyond the bridge were narrow cobbled streets with rails; and then
came the ascent, at first gradual, but incredibly steep as the Rue d’Auseil was reached.
I have never seen another street as narrow and steep as the Rue d’Auseil. It was almost a cliff, closed to
all vehicles, consisting in several places of ffights of steps, and ending at the top in a lofty ivied wall.
Its paving was irregular, sometimes stone slabs, sometimes cobblestones, and sometimes bare earth
with struggling greenish-grey vegetation. The houses were tall, peaked-roofed, incredibly old, and
crazily leaning backward, forward, and sidewise. Occasionally an opposite pair, both leaning forward,
almost met across the street like an arch; and certainly they kept most of the light from the ground
below. There were a few overhead bridges from house to house across the street.
The inhabitants of that street impressed me peculiarly; At first I thought it was because they were all
silent and reticent; but later decided it was because they were all very old. I do not know how I came to
live on such a street, but I was not myself when I moved there. I had been living in many poor places,
always evicted for want of money; until at last I came upon that tottering house in the Rue d’Auseil