This happens on a regular basis, especially in my current home-away-from-home -- which is to say, the humanities library of a large-ish state university. I mean really, who can resist The Russian Novel in English Literature? (Well, okay...) But some of them really are too good to pass up. Look at the spine of what you're reading right now, and tell me that title didn't just call to you from the shelf, assuming you're not reading something you were compelled to by some, for example, educational institution.
Thus did I discover James Thomson, crouching, as it were, against the wall of said home-away-from-home. As I was making my way back towards the stairs, I was stopped and, Joseph Fiennes-like, murmured, "Oh, good title!"
And how could I have done anything else, since the title was The City of Dreadful Night? I mean, it sounds like a Moreau painting, a Will Christopher Baer fantasy -- some weird, forgotten thing from the fag end of the Roman Empire, even. The City of Dreadful Night! Tell me you're reading that and not lusting after it. Tell me, if you want -- I won't believe you.
Of course I took it home.
James Thomson may be someone you think is someone else. Just to straighten things out, he is neither Jim Thompson, nor Francis Thomson. He's mostly forgotten now, it seems, though there is a rather nice page dedicated to him here.
But for a while there, Thomson was the going thing. Some of his contemporaries, still reeling from Swinburne, even dubbed him "the poet laureate of pessimism." And seriously, check this out:
Some say that phantoms haunt those shadowy streets,