Necronomicon – Abdul Alhazred/Simon

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Avon – 1980

Well, I finally got around to reading it; the purported Necronomicon of the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred.  If you haven’t heard of the Necronomicon, that means that you haven’t seen Evil Dead or read Lovecraft. It makes me sick to think of the uninitiated reading my blog, but luckily enough, this book contains a Most Excellent Charm against Hordes of N00bz:

Turn around, go, arise and go far away!
Your wickedness may rise like heaven unto smoke!
Arise and leave my blog!
Be commanded by Shammash the Mighty!
Be commanded by Marduk, the Great Magician of the Gods!
Be commanded by the God of Fire, your Destroyer!
From my blog depart in shame!

Now that only the adepts remain, let’s have a look at this ancient text of necromancy and forbidden ritual!

Well, it’s not really ancient, and the rituals aren’t as much forbidden as they are silly. There’s a million accounts of the story of this book online, but I’ll summarize for my readers. In the mid 70s, a lad calling himself Simon claimed that he had come across a copy of the Necronomicon, a fictional book that had appeared several times in the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Simon managed to get the book published, but he refused to ever go public, and nobody has ever seen the actual manuscript. Despite this, lots of people did and do think that this is the real deal. (There are some really embarrassing youtube videos of people defending the book’s authenticity.) I think the strongest evidence for the book’s legitimacy is actually how much it sucks; if I was going to write a fake Necronomicon, I would make it far, far nastier. This is basically a version of the Babylonian creation myth with a few Kutulus and ridiculous sigils thrown in to make it a bit spookier. One part of the book lists the 50 names and Seals of Marduk, and some of them are fucking ridiculous looking.

Asaru looks like a little nerd.
baalprik
And Shazu both looks and sounds like a magician’s pet gorilla.
shaavu
“Tutu” is another one of Marduk’s aliases. Yeah. Tutu.

The thing that really gives it away for me is the fact that the book reads like a Lovecraft story. It begins with a lad talking about how afraid he is of the horrors that he has awoken and proceeds to give a detailed account of how he awoke those horrors. He speaks passionately about how dangerous it would be for anyone else to read the information that he has been writing down. The manuscript is compiled of several different texts, all of which relate to each other and further the narrative, and the book ends with the narrator describing the evil things that he can see approaching him as he finishes writing the manuscript… Come on lads, that formula seems a little familiar doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong; I liked the fact that it was Lovecrafty, and I think that this is a quaint little addition to my weird fiction collection, but I’m definitely glad that I didn’t pay very much for my copy. The book is more than 200 pages, but about half of it is taken up with silly squiggly pictures. The testimonies of the Mad Arab were definitely the funnest parts. Were I out to cast some spells and summon some demons, I would probably be fairly disappointed with this. Then again, there is the very valid argument that this text is as “authentic” as most other grimoires. You’d have to be a bit of a wanker to take it seriously either way.

I’ve been watching that new Ash Vs Evil Dead series, and I have to say that it’s awesome. Opening the series with a Deep Purple song was utter genius! I’m going to go and watch the latest episode now. I’ll probably end up annoying my wife with some of my recently acquired Necronomicon trivia.

 

I found this post-it note tucked between pages when I opened it. Kutulu, enlightenment and Diana Ross; I’ll bet there was a story behind this one!!!

Obligatory Lovecraft Post

love
Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories – Penguin – 2002
The Thing on the Doorstep and Other Weird Stories – Penguin – 2001
Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories – Penguin – 2005
These are the only Lovecraft books that I own. I’m interested in buying more, but I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a book if it only contains one story that isn’t included in these. I would love to hear from anyone who could recommend other collections that are worth buying for somebody who already has the penguin editions.

I’m not going to waste much time talking about how great the stories are. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said a million times before. These collections are nice though. I liked Joshi’s introductions and notes. Dreams in the Witch House and Other Weird Stories is definitely the weakest of the three, but I still really enjoyed it. That one contains more fantasy stories than the other two, and while the fantasy stories were pretty great, I definitely prefer the darker stuff.

Lovecraft is one of my favourite writers. I remember going to a LAN party when I was 16 years old, and one of the guys there shared a folder of .txt files that were stories by ‘a cool horror writer who influenced Metallica and Quake’. No further persuasion was necessary.

Apart from his wordiness (which I completely adore), the main complaint that people seem to have about Lovecraft is that he was a nasty racist. Well, I don’t want to to defend him; the fact that he lived in a different time and place doesn’t justify his shitty opinions. However, I don’t feel the need to disregard his entire body of work because it contains a few parts that I don’t agree with. In honesty, I thought some of the racist parts were pretty funny. To clarify: I don’t think racism is funny; I think Howard’s delusions of grandeur are funny. (He wasn’t exactly a fine specimen of humanity himself.) Anyways, I don’t really care if an author of fiction is an asshole in real life; I read lots of books by people who I would absolutely hate if I were to meet them. Lewis Carroll was a paedo, Dennis Wheatley was a loyalist, Montague Summers was a boy-toucher, and I certainly don’t read the Marquis De Sade because he was a nice bloke. It helps that these lads are all dead though. I wouldn’t buy something if I knew that my money would go to a shitty racist.

It’s a shame that I spent so much time discussing what it is only a minor point in Lovecraft’s writing. The positive aspects of his work more than make up for some of his unpleasant ideas. The atmospheres that he creates within these tales are unique and genuinely exhilarating. If you haven’t read Lovecraft before, I would recommend any of these three collections as an introduction. The worst of these stories are pretty good, and the best of them are the best stories that I have read. 9.5/10