Dark Dreams
Exploring The Dark Horrifying Corners of The Necronomicon

Devan Sagliani | 3 Apr 2015 18:00
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So what does the book actually look like? No one really knows that either, since Lovecraft never specified the Necronomicon's appearance or physical dimensions. Sometimes the book is bound in leather but older editions show it with various kinds of metal clasps. There are even cases where the book is disguised as another book, such as in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" where it is intentionally mislabeled as an Islamic study guide, no doubt another wink to the "Mad Arab" who penned it. But that hasn't stopped plenty of people from being fooled into believing the book is actually real. Over the years librarians have received countless requests for it. Pranksters have listed it in rare book catalogues, prominent libraries, and book sales. According to urban legend a Yale undergrad went so far as to smuggle a card for it into the University Library's card catalog years ago that's still listed to this day.

Several people have attempted to cash in on the notoriety of Lovecraft's fictional creation. The most famous of these modern versions came out in trade paperback in 1980, with a glossy black cover marked with a strange sigil emblazoned on the front. The book claimed to be a translation of "the real" Necronomicon but had little if any connection to Lovecraft's original creation, relying on Sumerian mythology instead. It came to be known as "Simon's Necronomicon" - named after the forward written by the mononymous author himself. This was a wholesale re-imagining of the dark book. Instead of focusing on Elder Races, Old Gods, Cthulhu, or how aliens accidentally created humans, Simon's version focused on demons and incantations, dark spells and summoning terrifying creatures from the darkest pits of hell. Lovecraft, whose writings clearly depicted his views as a rational, science loving atheist, would surely have found the turning of his beloved creation into a battle between the forces of good and evil a repugnant idea. The general public however ate it up - including me! I remember picking up my copy as a teenager at Walden's books in the mall and thinking it should be more difficult to get my hands on a copy of a real book of black magic than walking in and forking over a crumpled fiver.

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Simon's version of the Necronomicon has never been out of print and has sold nearly a million copies to date, making it far and away the most popular Necronomicon in print. Despite its contents, the book's marketing boldly focused on the nonexistent "Lovecraft connection" and even made sensational claims about the book's magical power, stating that it was "potentially the most dangerous Black Book known to the Western World!" Owing to it's enormous success three related volumes were later published - The Necronomicon Spellbook, a book of pathworkings with the 50 names of Marduk; Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon, a history of the book itself and of the late 1970s New York occult scene; and The Gates Of The Necronomicon, instructions on pathworking with the Simon Necronomicon.

But Lovecraft's biggest boost, the thing that put the Necronomicon on the map as a cultural symbol of evil, would be the 1981 cult classic horror film Evil Dead by Sam Raimi, which depicted a darker version of Simon's incantation and summoning filled rituals. Raimi's Necronomicon was bound in human flesh and written in blood. It was unlike anything Lovecraft had envisioned 60 years before. Evil Dead would eventually go on to become a trilogy, and have a kick ass remake I might add, with the Necronomicon being the single most important symbol of the four films.

After Evil Dead's success the Necronomicon would show up in movies like Friday the 13th, TV shows, comic books, video games, and even kid's cartoons like Fanboy and Chum Chum on Nickelodeon, where Kyle the pre-teen "conjurer" possessed a talking version with a human face. Like other elements of Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos, the Necronomicon can be freely interpreted by the user so long as it maintains it's obscure history as a dark book of summoning. It can be a text book describing the impending end of the world, a spell book used for evil purposes, or an old journal that details creatures beyond human understanding - to name just a few manifestations. "The Cold" - a recent short story I published in my charity anthology "At Hell's Gates 2: Origins of Evil" - features a nod to Lovecraft's Necronomicon when a bastard son inherits his fathers old house, along with his belongings, which include a handwritten book of spells, demons, summonings, and incantations his ailing father had been using to attempt to stave off death. In fact many of the stories in the anthology series make reference to the works of Lovecraft. You can check it out and help wounded soldiers and their families at the same time.

Well, that concludes my three part series on H.P. Lovecraft. Thanks for reading. I hoped you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it. Until next time, stay scared!

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