of The Necronomicron
The Necronomicron is a fictional book featured in the works of
American fantasy / horror author H.P. Lovecraft and other writers,
which, as a whole, comprise the Cthulhu Mythos. The Necronomicron
was first mentioned in Lovecraft's 1924 short story "The
Hound", though hints of it (or similar books) appear as far
back as The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919). In the stories,
the book is dangerous because it is often harmful to the health
and sanity of its readers. For this reason, libraries keep it
under lock and key.
How Lovecraft conceived the name "Necronomicon" is not
clear—Lovecraft himself claimed that the title came to him
in a dream. Although some have suggested that Lovecraft was influenced
primarily by Robert W. Chambers' collection of short stories The
King in Yellow, others believe that Lovecraft did not read that
work until 1927. Lovecraft originally titled the book Al Azif
(from Arabic, meaning the sound of cicadas and other nocturnal
insects which folklore claims is the conversations of demons)
and said that it was written by the "mad Arab" Abdul
Alhazred. Among other things, the work contained an account of
the Old Ones, their history, and the means for summoning them.
According to Lovecraft, Alhazred wrote the original text in Damascus
around 730 AD, but a number of translations were made over the
centuries. The Greek translation, which gave the book its most
famous title, was made by a (fictional) Orthodox scholar, Theodorus
Philetas of Constantinople circa 950 AD. Olaus Wormius (an actual
historical person wrongly placed by Lovecraft in the thirteenth
century) translated it into Latin and indicated in the preface
that the Arabic original was lost. This translation was printed
twice: in the fifteenth century, evidently in Germany in black-letter,
and in the seventeenth, probably in Spain.
When the Latin translation called attention to the Necronomicron,
it was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232. The Greek translation,
printed in Italy between 1500 and 1550, was probably lost when
fire destroyed R. U. Pickman's library in Salem. The Elizabethan
magician John Dee allegedly had a copy and is thought to have
made an English translation, of which only fragments survive.
The Necronomicron's appearance and physical dimensions are a mystery.
Other than the obvious black letter editions, it is commonly portrayed
as bound in leather of various types and having metal clasps.
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