By Ismail Kadare

Arcade Publishing

Deep inside the Palace of Dreams, Mark-Alem, a young man from a powerful family, reads and interprets the dreams sent in from across the empire. These dreams could lead to nothing or they could predict the downfall of the empire. One dream works its way across Mark-Alem's desk several times during his meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the cavernous Palace. Though Mark-Alem can't seem to find his way through the winding corridors, the dream finds him and his fears are nothing compared to the true power the dream holds over his life.


By Jean-Paul Sartre

Vintage Books

If Sartre is correct in his existential play,

No Exit

, hell isn't a place. For Sartre, "hell is other people." Contact with them creates an inescapable reality of torture through interaction.

No Exit

finds three characters (Garçin, Inès and Estelle) locked in a room with no way out. The three discuss their memories, sins and desires. This creates a bond among them, yet they remain isolated from one another. When the door to the room is opened, they are so trapped in their hellish existence they don't bother to escape. For them, hell isn't just in the room; it permeates existence.


By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The Complete Poems

Penguin Classics

While not set in hell, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's long poem, "Christabel," finds a young woman so plundered by the world that she emulates a demonic creature. The poem's namesake wanders the woods and comes across Geraldine, who has been beaten and perhaps raped by a band of men. Christabel takes Geraldine home, where Geraldine loses all her power. Christabel's father sees Geraldine, becomes enamored with her and loses his temper at his own daughter, who is the worldly parallel to the mysterious Geraldine. A controversial character, Geraldine is thought to be a witch or vampire whose sexuality creates chaos for herself and those around her, which makes her the embodiment of hell on earth.