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Necronomicon


by Daniel Harms

The Necronomicon. Book of incantations and forbidden lore invented by H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), a Providence, Rhode Island horror writer who has influenced almost every subsequent author in the genre. In his fiction, Lovecraft strove to make his creations as plausible as possible, and succeeded beyond his expectations with the Necronomicon, which he modelled on other fictional works in the stories of Poe and Bierce. The Necronomicon, originally entitled Al Azif, was written by the "mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, a mysterious individual who was torn to pieces by an invisible monster in 738. A Greek translation appeared in 950, followed by Olaus Wormius's Latin edition in 1228 and John Dee's English manuscript around 1585. Churches and governments had often banned the book, so only a few copies still existed. Libraries held most of these under lock and key, though a few still existed in the collections of some wizards. All of this history, impressive though it is, was the creation of Lovecraft and his friends.

The Necronomicon soon became infamous, and Lovecraft had to send many letters to excited fans to tell them the book was his invention. A number of Necronomicon hoaxes occurred, and in 1973, the first published Necronomicon appeared. This book was introduced by L. Sprague de Camp and consisted mostly of fake Duriac script repeated over and over.

The next book called the Necronomicon appeared in 1977. Written by a man known as "Simon," this book presents a magickal system supposedly based upon Sumerian incantations. Though the picture of Sumerian mythology and religion within is not entirely accurate, many practitioners of magick have found it to be useful in their own experiments.

The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names, which first appeared in England in 1978, was the collaborative effort of a number of authors under George Hay and Colin Wilson. Though the book asserts that Lovecraft had contact with the Necronomicon through Freemasonry, Wilson has since assured his readers that this was not the case, and stated that he and the other writers were responsible for the book's contents. The book, though too fragmentary for most practitioner's tastes, makes for interesting reading nonetheless.

A few other books with the title Necronomicon have appeared, such as two collections of the work of the Swiss artist H. R. Giger and a paperback collection of stories. No evidence has ever been found that indicates that any copy of the book existed before Lovecraft's death. Kenneth Grant and other occult authors have asserted that the true Necronomicon might exist on a higher plane accessible only to a lucky few, but this possibility is only provable on subjective grounds.