Howard Phillips Lovecraft - History Of The Necronomicon (17.0 Kb)
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In 1927, Lovecraft wrote a brief pseudo-history of the Necronomicon that was published in 1938, after his death, as A History of The Necronomicon. This work allowed subsequent fiction writers to remain consistent with Lovecraft's treatment of the Necronomicon. According to this account, the book was originally called Al Azif, an Arabic word that Lovecraft defined as "that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons" (one Arabic/English dictionary translates `Azif as "whistling (of the wind) wei... More >>>
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In 1927, Lovecraft wrote a brief pseudo-history of the Necronomicon that was published in 1938, after his death, as A History of The Necronomicon. This work allowed subsequent fiction writers to remain consistent with Lovecraft's treatment of the Necronomicon. According to this account, the book was originally called Al Azif, an Arabic word that Lovecraft defined as "that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons" (one Arabic/English dictionary translates `Azif as "whistling (of the wind) weird sound or noise".)
In the History, Alhazred is said to have been a "half-crazed Arab" who worshipped the Lovecraftian entities Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. He is described as being from Sanaa in Yemen, and as visiting the ruins of Babylon, the "subterranean secrets" of Memphis and the Empty Quarter of Arabia (where he discovered the "nameless city" below Irem). In his last years, he lived in Damascus, where he wrote Al Azif before his sudden and mysterious death in 738.
In subsequent years, Lovecraft wrote, the Azif "gained considerable, though surreptitious circulation amongst the philosophers of the age." In 950, it was translated into Greek and given the title Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas, a fictional scholar from Constantinople. This version "impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts" before being "suppressed and burnt" in 1050 by Patriarch Michael (an historical figure who died in 1059).
After this attempted suppression, the work was "only heard of furtively" until it was translated from Greek into Latin by Olaus Wormius. (Lovecraft gives the date of this edition as 1228, though the real-life Danish scholar Olaus Wormius lived from 1588 to 1624.) Both the Latin and Greek text, the History relates, were banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, though Latin editions were apparently published in 15th century Germany and 17th century Spain. A Greek edition was printed in Italy in the first half of the 16th century.
The Elizabethan magician John Dee (1527-c. 1609) allegedly translated the book -- presumably into English -- but Lovecraft wrote that this version was never printed and only fragments survive. (The connection between Dee and the Necronomicon was suggested by Lovecraft's friend Frank Belknap Long.)
According to Lovecraft, the Arabic version of Al Azif had already disappeared by the time the Greek version was banned in 1050, though he cites "a vague account of a secret copy appearing in San Francisco during the current [20th] century" that "later perished in fire". The Greek version, he writes, has not been reported "since the burning of a certain Salem man's library in 1692" (an apparent reference to the Salem witch trials). (In the story The Diary of Alonzo Typer, the character Alonzo Typer finds a Greek copy.)
Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 - March 15, 1937) was an American author of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, known then simply as weird fiction.
HP Lovecraft was one of the early exponents of horror fantasy, best known for the series of works known collectively as the Cthulhu Mythos. He peppered his books with references to an occult work called The Necronomicon, and, as his fame grew, he was besieged by readers asking where they could find a copy of it. But the truth was that Lovecraft had invented the book and its title. He wrote in a letter of 1937: 'The name Necronomicon (necros, corpse; nomos, law; eikon, image = An Image of the Law of the Dead) occurred to me in the course of a dream, although the etymology is perfectly sound.' So the title came before everything else, and substituted, perfectly reasonably, for the work itself.
This is a game that many writers have played, and the history of literature is full of references to books that don't, in fact, exist. Margaret Atwood, AS Byatt, Dorothy L Sayers, Frank Herbert, Martin Amis, Arthur Conan Doyle and many, many others have all joined in. Some of my favourite fictional titles are from Kurt Vonnegut, who, as Kilgore Trout, writes non-existent works such as The Barring-Gaffner of Bagnialto, or This Year's Masterpiece, which are usually accompanied by helpful plot summaries. Perhaps the most notorious fictional-book-inventors have been writers such as Umberto Eco and Jorge Luis Borges; naturally enough, since their writing often draws attention to literature as itself an artefact.
With the Necronomicon there was a difference, however. Other writers began to treat it as if it really did exist, quoting from the nonexistent work and even composing large sections of it; several Necronomicons were in fact later published, by hoaxers including L. Sprague De Camp and Colin Wilson.
Lovecraft's major inspiration and invention was cosmic horror, the idea that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally alien. Those who genuinely reason, like his protagonists, gamble with sanity. Lovecraft has developed a cult following for his Cthulhu Mythos, a series of loosely interconnected fiction featuring a pantheon of human-nullifying entities, as well as the Necronomicon, a fictional grimoire of magical rites and forbidden lore. His works were deeply pessimistic and cynical, challenging the values of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, and Christian humanism. Lovecraft's protagonists usually achieve the mirror-opposite of traditional gnosis and mysticism by momentarily glimpsing the horror of ultimate reality.
Although Lovecraft's readership was limited during his life, his reputation has grown over the decades, and he is now commonly regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century, who together with Edgar Allan Poe has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Stephen King has called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.