The Truly Weird Source of the Weird Imagery in The Innocents

One of the weirder suggestions that I’ve seen in the literature on Jack Clayton’s The Innocents is that Truman Capote, one of the screenwriters, jazzed up the symbolism of the film by adding images taken from a strange early renaissance printed book, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (which translates as The Strife of Love in a Dream of Polyphilus) published in Venice by Aldus Manutius in 1499. The authorship is unknown and there are many guesses as to who designed the hundreds of woodcuts with which the story is adorned; the current best guess is Leon Battista Alberti.

A brief article that conveys an idea of what the text is about and what its graphics look like is at

A photocopy of this rare text itself–yes, all of it, internet lovers–is online at “”

It has been argued that many of the visually effective things that establish the uncanny atmosphere at Bly (Flora’s turtle, the doves, the statues of lovers, the cupid with a beetle emerging from its mouth) have been ascribed to Capote’s encounter with this very strange erotic text. And anyone still looking for a paper topic has one ready made here….

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