James Branch Cabell Library, 901 Park Ave., 1970, 1975
The library opened in 1970. The top three floors were completed in 1975. It is named for James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), a Richmond author whose fantasy literature, published in the 1910s and 1920s, is admired today by a number of comic book artists, writers, and others. Cabell is best known for his controversial "Jurgen" (1919), one of several ironic fantasies he wrote that took place in Cabell's mythical medieval world of Poictesme (pwa-tem). "Jurgen," laced with erotic overtones, was considered pornographic by some and a trial over its content brought the reclusive writer national fame. Throughout the 1920s, Cabell was highly regarded by his literary peers -- H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, and others praised his works. His medieval romanticism and fantasy were in fact thinly disguised commentary on the manners of those times. As the 1930s approached, when the realism of writers like Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck came into vogue, Cabell's sophisticated writing voice fell out of favor with the reading public. Cabell continued to write and by the end of his life he had authored some 52 volumes of work.