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In the beginning the world was without form, a valley veiled in mists and full of enormous, primeval trees, bare rocks and dragons from the dawn of time. Then fire arrived, and fire created opposites: warmth and cold, life and death, light and darkness.

And behold: strange gods began to crawl out of the darkness, gods who found souls at the edge of the flames. With these souls, they destroyed the primordial dragons and burned the archtrees to the ground. And thus began the Age of Fire, a time when the gods flourished.

But before long, the First Flame began to dwindle. The world turned towards the darkness, and living beings were hollowed out from the inside.

The protagonist awakes in a dungeon where he has been locked away to await the world being snuffed out. He flees, fights with his fellow prisoners, who have lost their minds and become mere shells of human beings, and flies in the claws of an enormous raven all the way to the Firelink Shrine.

A warrior sitting at the edge of the bonfire says that there is no path to salvation. We are all doomed to assume hollow form. It would have been better to rot away in the dungeon.

But: if someone were to succeed in ringing two Bells of Awakening on different sides of the kingdom, something might happen. What kind of bells they are and where they are to be found, nobody knows.

And thus begins a journey into the darkness at the depths of the world. Clues are few and far between, progress is slow, and obstacles are depressingly overpowering. As he empties from within, the wanderer tries to stay alive until the next bonfire and understand what he is in fact trying to achieve. New nightmarish creatures lurk round every corner, fiends that will tear him to shreds in an instant.

As death comes, the player loses the precious souls he has gathered along the way and is reborn at the previous bonfire. And so, one must try again – ten, twenty, thirty times. There are no shortcuts.

The reason for this progress is revealed only after thousands of moments of suffering. The player must find the First Flame and rekindle it. In a world made of fire, this rebirth can only happen through a burnt offering.

Dark Souls allows the player to live through an entire myth. Released by the Japanese company FromSoftware in 2011, the game rewrites pagan creation myths, incorporating elements of Eastern belief systems, Christian mysticism, philosophy and alchemy. In fact, nothing in the game’s world stems from an earthly perspective. At stake are our souls, humanity itself, the rocking of the very foundations of existence.

Alongside other commercial video games, Dark Souls feels like an almost impossible curiosity. It does not follow the Western traditions of storytelling with regard to narrative, history, spiritual growth and human capabilities. The player is not taught anything. We do not have the mental faculties to comprehend what is good and what is bad. History repeats itself, the human part is that of the jester.

According to the famous theory developed by myth researcher Joseph Campbell, all stories in the world follow the same basic pattern. They start in a familiar setting and move into a strange world where the hero is invited to set off on an adventure. Through a variety of challenges, the hero faces an extreme ordeal, experiences a rebirth of sorts, and returns home wiser and as a more respected member of the community. The hero’s journey can be seen to play out in ancient creation myths just as much as in Hollywood movies.

Many attempts have been made to make Dark Souls fit Campbell’s template, though it might in fact be more fruitful to think of the story more as challenging the myth than perpetuating it. The hero is not a hero, rather a pawn cheated by a fake prediction. Everything is strange from beginning to end. Ithaca is never discovered, let alone Nirvana. And rebirth is not a dramatic event but simply a chain made all the less eventful by a series of constant repeats.

In video games, death is rarely permanent. In standard solutions, the character awakes at the last save point and the player is given the opportunity to try again.

Dark Souls is the only game I know that gives a mythological explanation for such constant rebirth. The wanderer’s immortality is not a blessing but a form of cosmic punishment. The player has been condemned to a cycle of eternal rebirth.

This is not about reincarnation in a purely Hindu sense, about karma and being reborn in a new body. The character’s fate is to be reborn into the world in exactly the same form every time. At the First Flame, he tries to free himself of the curse through self-immolation.

As well as Campbell’s theories, there has been much discussion about the relationship between Dark Souls and the notion of eternal return first posited by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In his book The Gay Science (1882), Nietzsche encourages the reader to imagine a demon that creeps into our loneliest loneliness and explains that our lives will forever repeat the same way, right down to the smallest details. How should we accept this knowledge? According to the philosopher himself, we should live in such a way that we can embrace this repetition and learn to love our own destiny.

We must learn to love infinite repetition if we are to understand the world of Dark Souls too. We lose often, and we must overcome the same obstacles time and time again. Experience is most beneficial to those who can successfully channel the kind of positive nihilism that Nietzsche espoused: if we can laugh, cry, and eventually say yes when the hopeless cycle starts again from the beginning.

I played through the Dark Souls trilogy (2011–2016) and its sister game Bloodborne (2015) over a period of around five years. There’s no reason it should take this long. The greatest obstacle soon became the continual crushing of my nerves and total collapse in the face of the game’s ashen grey world.

I’m not cut out for a challenge like this, I told myself time and again. I repeatedly gave up halfway through, on one occasion for over six months.

The sense of humiliation and despair caused by Dark Souls shuns comparison with any other experience. It strips us of all our pride and self-assuredness. The player is thrown into the middle of an absurd and uncaring world and left there without clear instructions as to what to do. Making progress is slow and the obstacles players face are depressingly overpowering. Each death feels like a profound loss. Development built up over a long period of time can slip away in seconds.

Imagine you are reading an exceptionally beautiful novel but after every sentence you have to play chess with an angry lion while locked in a burning cellar. This is what playing Dark Souls feels like at first.

Almost non-existent background information makes us seek understanding in architecture, the brief descriptions of weapons and equipment, the scarce comments of passers-by, and other fragments enigmatically scattered across the landscape. If we want more information, we must make our way further into the labyrinth of death, we must nurture our inner flame, become wiser and stronger.

Understanding Dark Souls becomes something of an occult process. It initiates its players into a Faustian suffering mysticism, an endless cycle of pain and thirst for knowledge.

On this repeated journey, I constantly encounter other people searching for the First Flame. They lean dejectedly against walls or sit on tussocks, having finally lost all hope. In each part of the game, a crestfallen warrior is sitting beside the Firelink Shrine, having left his task unfinished. He has decided instead to be a passive observer, to watch other wanderers’ futile flailing and wait for his humanity to disappear. The love of fate has turned to bitterness.

“What we call the curse is traceable to the soul. Do you see what that means? To be alive … to walk this earth … That's the real curse right there,” says the crestfallen Saulden in Part Two of the game in profound existentialist spirit.

In the world of Dark Souls, everything is perishable, repeating and cosmically immaterial. Those looking for gods will find only hollow shells wandering through the wilderness. If the wanderer executes them, then steps on the throne, nobody will be there to mete out punishment.

The pessimism sown in the world is infectious and strengthens through the unreasonable obstacles the player must overcome. At times, there is nothing but rage left inside me. When even forty attempts isn’t enough to vanquish a single opponent, rage starts to turn to bitterness. There has never been any hope. I have been condemned to failure.

The difficulty of this game isn’t just a curiosity with which the developers can cash in on the most obsessive, masochistic players. Failure is a theme that Dark Souls explores both through the language of myth and mechanics. The game’s creator Hidetaka Miyazaki has spoken of death as a teacher. When you die a hundred times, you eventually become dead to rage too.

Only once you become numb to the poison coursing through your body does the possibility of progress present itself.

From the descriptions of ancient myths, one might easily get the impression that these events happened once, long ago, at the dawn of time. In reality, myths were relived according to the cycle of days, seasons or the ages. Horus and Set were continually battling each other along the horizon, creating the shift between day and night. At the zagmuk festival in ancient Mesopotamia, Marduk killed the monster Tiamat every year.

According to religious historian Mircea Eliade, primitive people did not imagine they ever did anything new, even in their day-to-day lives, but simply repeated eternal actions. “What (man) does, has been done before. His life is the ceaseless repetition of gestures initiated by others,” Eliade wrote in his The Myth of the Eternal Return (1949).

In literature, the theme of cyclically renewing myths has been widely explored, notably in Michael Ende ’s fantasy novel Die unendliche Geschichte (‘The Neverending Story’, 1979). Just like Dark Souls, it describes a world that is crumbling to nothing as the result of a strange curse. Marked with chaotic architecture, the ‘Old Emperor City’ is full of figures who have gone mad and lost their memories, people who once ruled or at least tried to control the fantasy world. In this realm, events repeat over and over again.

No one could climb the Mountain of Destiny until the last successful mountaineer had been utterly forgotten. Thus anyone who had managed to climb it would always be the first.

Whereas for Nietzsche, eternal return signified the endless renewal of life, for Eliade these words represented the continual return to an ancient mythical time. We can see the mythology of Dark Souls as being rooted in both these notions. The wanderer is born into the world over and over again in order to perform the very same tasks. At the same time, the wanderer is searching for a channel through which to renew time and the world.

By reviving the First Flame, the Age of Fire can continue for a moment, but even this continuation is only in the sense of “tolerating history”, as Eliade has put it. Even at the peak of a Golden Age, the era of decline is merely biding its time, waiting to reappear.

The first part of the game tells the story of Lordran, a land where culture once flourished but where years of decay have already burrowed their way deep into the inhabitants’ souls. The following parts of the story take place in later historical periods in the kingdoms of Drangleic and Lothric, where the same myth of the dwindling flame repeats once again. Mountain climbers embark on their bid to conquer the mountain, fall into ravines and start again from the beginning. Culture flourishes, decays and is destroyed until, amid the darkness, a new flame flickers into life.

The world order surrounding the myth of the First Flame resembles the notion of fire as the original impetus behind the world, as espoused by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. In one of his fragments, he writes:

This world, which is the same for all, no one of gods or men has made. But it always was, is, and will be: an ever-living Fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.

The Stoics who lived after Heraclitus developed the notion of a fire to cleanse everything on the earth ( ekpyrosis ), an event in which the world would be completely destroyed then rebuilt in exactly the same way. The cycle of all-engulfing fire is deemed to continue in perpetuity.

The notion of cultures cyclically growing and falling is ancient and universal. In Greek philosophy, a mythical Golden Age is followed by a series of eras marked by gradually depreciating metals at the mercy of which civilisation wandered from divinity, virtue and hard work towards ever greater dishonesty, violence and chaos.

Hindu cosmological thought is also founded on the idea of four gradually depreciating eras. Naturally, we are currently living in the last of these eras, an age of darkness known as kali yuga and that is marked by sin, greed, deceit and plague.

Not all theories of decline are positioned within such cosmic proportions. The cultural historian and philosopher Oswald Spengler believed that every culture goes through a series of developmental phases resembling the seasons. Culture is manifested like the spring bursting into bloom, it flourishes throughout the summer months, uses up its inner resources as autumn draws in, and as winter sets in it withers, shrivelling to nothing but bureaucratic civilisation.

For Spengler, decline manifested itself in different cultures as essentially the same array of symptoms: utilitarianism, belligerence, a lack of history, childlessness, a “Second Religiousness”, as Spengler would put it, and Caesarism, an apathy towards the rise of abusive dictators. Culture achieved its objectives and wore itself out. According to Spengler, Western culture entered the winter phase during the 19th century.

A pessimistic view of the development of human culture was also at the root of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the father of modern fantasy literature. For him, technological advances did not represent a better future, and history was not on a trajectory towards ever greater successes. Rather, 20th-century man lived in a state of constantly increasing barbarism. In one of his letters, Tolkien sums up his understanding of history thus:

I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’—though it contains (and in a legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory.

Tolkien’s literary output can also be positioned within the continuum of the four ages. In the beginning, the world was created from an eternal flame which flickers behind everything else. In the first chapter of The Silmarillion, Earth is described as “yet young and full of flame”. After this, the world necessarily alternates between war and peace, chaos and order. The fourth age is the age of humankind, an age about which we know only very little.

Indeed, a Golden Age and kali yuga necessarily alternate in the world order of Dark Souls too. The kingdom lives through periods of ‘long defeat’ during which the flame which has fed culture dwindles in concrete fashion. The First Flame can be nurtured with human sacrifices, thereby buying extra burning time, which the limited beings infatuated with the period of cultural prosperity eagerly try to bring about. For them, the Golden Age should continue forever.

This notion brings to mind a seemingly popular interpretation among factions of the alt-right, who greatly admire Spengler, which asserts that something should or at least ought to be done about Western decline. As if there were some way we could turn back the sunset.

Both Spengler and Dark Souls simply tell us what inevitably awaits us. We must learn to love our own fate.

I follow the path of the wanderer through the ruins. I clamber out of the dark recesses of the dungeon to a cliff edge shrouded in mist and continue my journey through the graveyards towards the accursed cities.

In a quiet, distant woodland a giant wolf keeps watch over the grave of his master, who died centuries earlier, with a sword clenched between its teeth. Hidden away in his chamber, King Drangleic is spinning in an eternal circle having lost his mind, as though caught in a nightmarish Shakespearean vision. A veiled Dancer of the Boreal Valley performs violent pirouettes in an empty hall to music rivalling the choral works of Arvo Pärt.

There are wanderers who collapse under a heavy burden as they search for the ultimate perdition. There is a dumb and crippled prince crawling towards the final battle, carrying his weak brother on his back. There is the son of the sun god, raised as a girl because of his affection for the moon.

In observing the landscape in Dark Souls, it is hard not to think of Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings of ruins, of Gustave Doré’s etchings of hell, William Blake’s primordial monsters and Goya’s ghosts. Dark Souls owes everything to the dreamlike mysteriousness of Romantic art, to its darkness, its celebration of decline.

Perhaps the most important figure in German Romanticism is that of the Wanderer, whose internal melancholy was often described alongside the magic elements of the surrounding nature. In Winterreise , Franz Schubert’s setting of texts by Wilhelm Müller , the wanderer walks through a series of barren landscapes, his wounded limbs burning, is led away by a will-o’-the-wisp and becomes lost in “deepest clefts of rock” and finds his way to the charcoal-burner’s hut. Not even in the graveyard can he find rest.

What senseless craving

drives me into the wilderness?

Signposts stand on the roads,

point towards towns.

Yet I wander on and on,

unresting, in search of rest.

Eventually, the wanderer sees an old beggar playing a hurdy-gurdy and asks him to accompany his song, creating a curious perpetual motion, as the tenor Ian Bostridge has put it “a musical-poetical serpent biting its own tail”, a lament that time and again guides the wanderer back to the beginning.

The wanderer can also be found in the character classes in Part One of Dark Souls. I select the wanderer and begin this primitive perpetual motion from the beginning once again, with the ebb and flow of Winterreise in my mind.

The Romanticism of Dark Souls, its fallen gods, its demons, the dialogues written in archaic English and the general atmosphere of impending decline awaken many associations with the literary canon of bygone centuries. Indeed, there is something profoundly literary about the game, something that sets it apart from the numerous big-budget games that try to imitate cinematic storylines.

I think of Lord Byron’s apocalyptic poem ‘Darkness’ (1816), its description of people languishing under an extinguished sun, burning everything in their cities, thrones and all, simply to spend another moment in the light. The last remaining survivors make their way to “the dying embers of an altar-piece”, gather together some kindling and blow into life “a flame / Which was a mockery”, which flickers for a moment before all is engulfed in darkness.

I think of An Inhabitant of Carcosa (1886) by the American horror writer Ambrose Bierce, in which a man plagued by delirious visions wanders from his hospital bed out into the wastelands and eventually finds himself among a cluster of gravestones. Past him walks an archer dressed only in oilskins and carrying a flaming torch. The man does not notice the protagonist at all, but simply walks past him performing a barbarous chant in an unknown language. Eventually the narrator finds his own name among the gravestones and realises that he has arrived at the ruins of his hometown, and that he is dead.

Through its artistry, the Dark Souls series creates before the player “a perfect Goyaesque world in which the meaning and values of a life that has collapsed amid the ruins attempts to stay upright,” as the film director Rax Rinnekangas notes in his work Nocturama. This quotation, however, is a description of the German writer W. G. Sebald, in whose works the reader wanders through a crumbling Europe like the living dead and tries to understand the continent’s past. On the surface, these novels have nothing more in common with the demonic fantasy world of Dark Souls than the figure of the mysterious wanderer, the lack of a deeper meaning and the general sense of fading.

But this in itself is not a small commonality. The most touching aspect of Sebald’s books is his stubborn desire to continue the great wandering of the Romantics, though even the narrator himself understands the impossibility of such an endeavour. It is too late. Europe has become old, the world is in smithereens and the flame is dwindling. All that is left of Romanticism is a charred melancholy, of our winter journey all we have left is our exhaustion and a history steamrollered by the banality of the modern age. Even the snows of the Alps will soon have melted for good.

In the third part of Dark Souls I find myself in a place where all the cities of the past have been crushed together over time to create a nightmarish vision to challenge the laws of physics. This is the Dreg Heap, where past civilisations slowly collapse and sink towards a single point. The horror of history rushes over me. I understand it less and less.

On the few occasions I took a couple of months’ break from Dark Souls, I moped around and sought comfort elsewhere. I played other games, the biggest, most acclaimed and successful games in the world. With most of them, I lost interest fairly quickly. Everything felt like cheap entertainment, mediocre running around, optimistic hogwash. Dark Souls had left its mark on me. And so I always came back to the game and continued running this traumatic gauntlet.

When I was struggling with the most challenging parts of the game, without my noticing I would kneel down in front of the television. At first this was just an intuitive way of focusing my attention and bringing myself closer to the screen. But as a result of this kneeling, in a curious way I found myself feeling humbler. Let me overcome this, I chanted in my mind over and over as I clasped my hands together across the controls.

Who was I actually talking to?

I later discovered that Hidetaka Miyazaki, who designed Dark Souls, had intended the game to be an experience similar to prayer. He did not think of swords, fireballs and spells as symbols of power. Rather, they represent the last hope, something with which we can just barely succeed. In addition to weapons we need intelligence, skill—and faith.

“I myself am not religious, but when I’m faced with something I cannot control, my last resort is to pray. It’s that element that I want to express in the game,” Miyazaki has said in The Dark Souls Companion.

Dark Souls encourages the player to practice devotion, both in the most solitary recesses of the mind and in the sense of community facilitated online. “Praise the sun” __ is a phrase repeated by many of the game’s most fervent followers. It is a phrase regularly encountered in the messages players leave on earth. Associated with this, the sun salute is one of the most common gestures of the Dark Souls characters.

In this bleak world, so rarely does the sun appear in its full glory that players are only too eager to beatify it. In this way, thousands of people in rooms across the world can come together in an archaic sun-worshipping ritual in a world of virtual spirits.

Or is someone really going to suggest that this isn’t a real ritual?

Compared with other gamers, Dark Souls disciples talk surprisingly often about crying, tears and despair. Having said that, a common notion among the community of players is that these games make people tougher. The internet is full of stories of people who have overcome depression and suicidal ideation with the help of Dark Souls.

I don’t doubt this for a minute. The game can be seen as an epic journey into the nature of depression. Whereas depth psychology talks about demons in a metaphorical sense, Dark Souls makes them visible and allows the player to conquer them. The real demon is revealed in how each player relates to the game. Is long defeat the same as ultimate loss? Can fatalism be turned into victory?

Dark Souls often feels like an eternal limbo between light and perdition. The curse turning the world hollow resembles a feeling of depression that can also feel as though it will last an eternity. Depression erases our previous achievements and opportunities for the future. All that is left is a horizon of suffering, an almost religious belief that our distress is endless.

There is a path leading out of stagnation. We must crawl through poisonous bogs, fumble our way through dark catafalques and slay beasts. We must learn to save our strength and give our all. Defeat is inevitable, there is no doubt about that. At the same time, it encourages us to climb to our feet and try again. When we finally achieve our goals, the experience is almost ecstatic.

No text, image or video clip can do justice to an experience like playing Dark Souls. All the elements that make games an artform in their own right are missing: the experience of interaction, controlling the character, the geometry of the world, the expansive sense of space.

At their best, games are stories that cannot be told in any other format. The drama is woven into the unspoken details of the surroundings, their physical impulses: the expectation of a battle, the relief of a fiery flask brought to the lips, two players’ unpredictable dance of death on a misty bridge. Or, quite simply, what walking and jumping feel like.

In the world of Dark Souls, it is possible to see the ghostlike contours of other players. They sit at the bonfires, swishing their swords at invisible opponents, they die or dissolve from view. These ghosts open up a panorama on the thousands of ways it is possible to live and die in this game. The player realises he is simply one mute spirit amid innumerable others. On the other hand, in a dejected world, this provides a glimmer of optimism: I am not alone.

Despite their creativity and financial success, video games are still easily classed as somehow beneath canonical ‘high’ culture. When an opera singer sings of dragons or a philosopher writes about demons, the audience nods in approval. But to many people, the monsters of the gaming world still feel childish.

This is partly due to the puerile and in many ways childish disservice the industry has done to itself. At their best, video games approach total art ( Gesamtkunstwerk )—in fact, often more successfully than many other artforms. The term, made famous by the opera composer Richard Wagner, denotes a work in which the traditional arts of poetry, theatre and music are seamlessly fused together.

I have taken to calling Dark Souls the most operatic of video games. Its language, costumes, backdrops and plotlines are full of operatic drama. The story explores the same themes as Wagner’s Ring Cycle, in which gods, mortals, giants and dragons engage in battle, where greed and power hunger thrive and where mythical ages repeat cyclically. In the end, even the gods are sacrificed by fire. In Dark Souls, the characters that the wanderer encounters whose names begin with ‘Sieg-’ refer quite explicitly to Wagner’s Siegfried, Siegmund and Sieglinde.

But more than anything, like the Ring tetralogy, the Dark Souls series is the most challenging endurance test in its field, and faced with its slowly manifesting mythical-poetical world, the beginner can quickly become disheartened. In order to achieve the greatest reward, one must surrender to both these epics completely.

In each part of Dark Souls the player wades through thousands of desolate landscapes, finds his way to the furnaces of the universe and defeats a being who has slumped into desperate madness and who in one way or another attempts to impact the dwindling of the First Flame. At this point comes a fateful moment unlike any other in the history of video games. The player can choose whether to sacrifice himself to the First Flame, thus allowing the age of the gods to continue, or walk away and let the world sink into darkness.

This is not a question of choosing between good and evil. The continuation of the Age of Fire will restore some of the beauty of creation. Yet it is simultaneously a state that defies the cosmic cycle, and its artificial upkeep only serves to draw out mortal suffering. Before long, a time of darkness will descend. The age of darkness is an age of mortals—after all, since the dawn of time humans have carried within them a dark soul.

No matter which option I chose, after the final credits, the whole pointless Sisyphean endeavour would start again, only this time it will be more difficult. What was I supposed to learn from this?

At the start of the final part, the cycle of stoking the flame and letting it dwindle has continued through the ages. Civilisations have flourished and declined, antiheroes have died and been born again many times over. After constant revivification, even the First Flame is exhausted, and the mythology of fire has become a mythology of ash.

Stoking the First Flame has become nothing but a “re-enactment of the first linking of the fire”, as the legless pygmy king Ludleth tells the wanderer.

As we know, such things have no meaning to humans. A re-enactment or not, a ritual can return us to the fabled beginnings of time again and again.

I find my way into a crater covered in thick ash and encounter the final obstacle on my journey. It is not a giant demon or a dragon of lore, but a shadowy human figure glowing like an ember, the Soul of Cinder. This is the incarnation of every successful and unsuccessful wanderer fighting desperately to remain within the faint glimmer of the flame. At the same time, the wanderer is fighting against his own shadow, the gaming community and the entirety of history.

The hundreds of hours I have spent playing Dark Souls have not made me a particularly good player. It takes countless attempts to finally defeat one’s shadow. I exhaust myself. I give up for weeks at a time. When I finally return to the struggle, I have forgotten my sense of despair and defeat, my rage and pride. My shadow is felled after only a few attempts, almost easily. After years of masochism, the final foe has been vanquished.

I stand up from my painful kneeling prayer and with trembling hands wipe away the tears that have pushed their way to the surface. No other video game has ever caused me to react in this way. It is as though an entire trauma has been sucked away all at once.

The great struggle towards the emptiness has ended.

***

Bibliography:

Ambrose Bierce: The Inhabitant of Carcosa . San Francisco Newsletter and California Advertiser 1886.

Ian Bostridge: Schubert’s Winter Journey. Anatomy of an Obsession. Vintage Books 2017 .

Mircea Eliade: The Myth of the Eternal Return. Cosmos and History. Trans. William R. Trask. Princeton University Press 2021.

Michael Ende: The Neverending Story. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Puffin Books 1993

Heraclitus: Fragments. Trans. Brooks Haxton. Penguin Classics 2003.

Hesiod: Works and Days. Trans. A. E. Stallings. Penguin Classics 2018.

Keza Macdonald & Jason Killingsworth: You Died: The Dark Souls Companion. BackPage Press 2016.

Aleksandr Manzos: Pelit elämän peilinä. (‘Games as Mirrors of Life’) Avain 2018.

Wilhelm Müller: Winterreise. Trans: William Mann. EMI/Warner Classics 1997.

Friedrich Nietzsche: The Gay Science. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. Vintage 2010.

Rax Rinnekangas: Nocturama. Sebaldia lukiessa. (‘Nocturama. Reading Sebald’) Lurra Editions 2013.

John M. Rist: The Stoics. University of California Press 1978.

Oswald Spengler: The Decline of the West. Trans. Charles Francis Atkinson. Alfred A. Knopf 1928.

J. R. R. Tolkien: Letters. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter. George Allen & Unwin 1981.

J. R. R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion. George Allen & Unwin 1977.

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