Nothing But the Truth
We read much in Alhazred's Necronomicon about its properties, and about the relation of ghosts' souls to the objects
it symbolized; and were disturbed by what we read.
The Necronomicon (alternatively known as Al-Azif and The Book of the Arab) was written by Abdul
Alhazred in Damascus in 730 C.E. Literally, the "Book of Dead Names", this tome, a source of immense power, holds the keys
to summoning the Old Ones, beings from beyond the mortal sphere. How these powerful entities came to Earth is lost, but while
they were here these creatures often mated with humans creating monsters. In the distant past they returned to their
sphere. Once back in the consensus reality, the Old Ones will reclaim our world, thus destroying humanity.
-- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Hound"
In 1487, the Dominican priest Olaus Wormius translated The Necronomicon from the original Arabic to Latin. A secretary
to the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, Wormius was charged with heresy and put to death for his work.
A copy of the translation eventually found its way into the hands the famous English magician Dr. John Dee. Sometime after
1586, the mage translated Wormius' nine volume Latin translation into English.
Late in the 19th century, Aleister Crowley read Dee's translation. Although never mentioned by name in his
works, The Necronomicon is a seminal influence on Crowley's writings and beliefs. His Book of Law (1904) appears
to be a transcription of Dee's translation.
Attempting to further establish his literary credentials, Crowley traveled to New York in 1918, where he gave a lecture on modern
poetry. There he met the successful hat designer Sonia Greene, who had literary aspirations of her own. The duo met on an
irregular basis for the next few months.
In 1921, Greene befriended writer H.P. Lovercraft. Months later, Lovecraft wrote his first work to mention Abdul
Alhazred ("The Nameless City", 1921) and not long after his first story with The Necronomicon ("The Hound", 1922). Greene
and Lovecraft married in 1924.
No one knows for sure what Crowley told Greene or exactly what Greene told Lovecraft, but evidence supports that Lovecraft
did not create The Necronomicon or Abdul Alhazred.
This statement would be true, if any of the above were true.
A big part of my job at Half Price Books is working with rare books, and I frequently staff the store's collectibles annex.
Last week this guy came in and looked around. Clearly by his dazed looks and the way he pawed at a few books, he had never
been in before. I asked if I could help him.
"Naw. The book I am looking for is too old for you."
This struck me as odd, since we have books from the early 17th century. There are older books, but people rarely
ask for them. I asked what he was looking for.
"The first edition of The Necronomicon. By Abdul Alhazred."
He said it just like that complete with the period. I proceeded to tell him the book was a legend created by
H.P. Lovecraft. Predictably, he told me that I had no idea what I was talking about and left.
The myth of The Necronomicon is one of the great urban legends of the book business. The only verifiable facts are
the bits about Lovecraft marrying Sonia Greene and that he first wrote about The Necronomicon soon after meeting
her. Lovecraft's work was surely influenced by exposure to Crowley and his beliefs. There is no verifiable mention of
The Necronomicon before Lovecraft's "The Hound."
That fact doesn't stop believers from asking for the Dee English language translation. There have been several attempts
to capitalize on the popularity of Lovercraft, most notably the poorly written sensationalist Necronomicon
by "Simon." I have sold innumerable copies of Simon's text to many adolescents. In 2003, two scholars (Daniel Harms and
John Wisdom Gonce III) published the definitive debunking, Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's
Legend. Even with that, I still have people looking for the "original" text.
Thanks to the influence of Oscar-winning screenwriter and best-selling author William Goldman, S. Morgenstern's The
Princess Bride, the long out-of-print classic novel of Florin political intrigue, returned in 1973. Goldman
remembered loving the book when his father read it to him as a child. After years of searching, he finally found a
secondhand copy, only to discover how boring the story actually was. Apparently, his father only shared the good
parts. Inspired, Goodman decided to abridge the original to re-create the book he enjoyed as a child.
Inigo: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
-- S. Morgenstern as abridged by William Goldman, The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, the "Good Parts" Version,
Abridged by William Goldman became a cult sensation and later a critically acclaimed film that has been dubbed
The Wizard of Oz of its generation. Another forgotten Morgenstern, The Silent Gondoliers (again with
edits by Goldman), was released in 1983. For the 25th anniversary celebration of the re-release of The
Princess Bride, a special hardback version of the abridged novel was produced along with the only extant portion
of the lost sequel Buttercup's Baby: S. Morgenstern's Glorious Examination of Courage Matched Against the Death of the Heart.
All this created a demand for the original unabridged version
of The Princess Bride. With each incarnation of the novel and every showing the film, people flock to
bookstores and search online sites for the book.
They could spend an eternity looking but they will never find it. S. Morgenstern never
existed. He is a clever construct from the incredible literary mind of William Goldman. So convincing is
the deception that over thirty years after publication of The Princess Bride, customers are still asking
about the original Morgenstern publication. Unlike The Necronomicon folk, Bride fans are more
chagrined than anything else.
Where eerie figures caper
Beginning with the 1973 novel Demon Seed and intermittently through twenty books ending with 2000's
False Memory, many Dean Koontz novels featured a verse epigraph from Stephen Crane's The Book of Counted
Sorrows. These dark poems often foretold some theme within the book. Oddly, no other author ever quoted from
Crane's book. Rumor had it that to read the entire work would drive a person mad.
to some midnight music
that only they can hear.
-- Stephen Crane, The Book of Counted Sorrows
By the mid-80s, fans were driving booksellers and librarians nuts looking for the tome. Like
the Necronomicon and Princess Bride, there was no literary or other evidence of the book
beyond one author's comments.
In 1992 after receiving numerous queries, Koontz sent a letter to librarians.
Actually there is no such book. I made it up. The way you made up footnote sources for fabricated facts in
high-school English reports. Oh, come on, yes, you did. Sometimes, when I need a bit of verse to convey some of the
underlying themes of a section of a novel, I can't find anything applicable, so I write my own and attribute it to this
imaginary tome. I figured readers would eventually realize The Book of Counted Sorrows was my own invention, and
I never expected that one day librarians and booksellers would be writing from all over the country, asking for help in
tracking down this rare and mysterious volume!
But still the questions persisted. Fans insisted it must be real. Then in 2003, Koontz made liars of librarians
and booksellers when he released The Book of Constant Sorrows through Charnel House. At least (unlike
The Necronomicon and the unabridged The Princess Bride) we can now tell people that the book does
Urban legends (UL) are true stories that are too good to be true. These popular fables describe presumably real
(though odd) events that happen to a friend of a friend. And they are usually told by credible persons narrating them
in a believable style because they do believe them.
-- Jan Harold Brunvand, Too Good To Be True