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Necronomicon as a prop

The Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire invented by HP Lovecraft in the early 20th century . The book is part of the Cthulhu myth , whereby it has entered horror and fantasy literature and, like no other, has inspired numerous other authors to write stories about this work. It has developed its very own myth.


As Lovecraft wrote in a letter to Harry O. Fischer in 1937, the title is Greek and translates as: nekros νεκρός 'corpse', nomos νόμος 'law', eikon εἰκών 'image', 'image', which means 'image' as meaning an image of the law of the dead results. In addition to this etymology by Lovecraft itself, there are other ways of derivation that are probably more linguistically correct:

  • Concerning the dead - from nemein νέμειν 'consider', 'look at'
  • Knowledge of the dead - from the Greek gnomon γνώμων 'connoisseur', 'referee' or 'pointer of a sundial ' (assuming that the word initial G has been lost).
  • (The thing) that affects the customs / laws of the dead of:
    Nekros / nekr-o- (noun) 'dead (person)'
    nomos / nom-o- (noun) 'law', 'custom'
    -ikos / -ike / -ikon (adjectival suffix) 'concerning', 'regarding to'
    accordingly: nekr-o- + nom-o- + -ikos> nekronomikos 'concerning the customs / laws of the dead' , as a noun then Necronomicon

In addition, it sometimes appears as a translation: The Book of Dead Names - from onoma όνομά 'Name'.

Lovecraft's Necronomicon

The Necronomicon was first mentioned by name by Lovecraft in 1922 in the story The Hound , published in 1924. According to his own letters, this name occurred to him in a dream. The title Necronomicon is inextricably linked to the name of the author, the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. The Necronomicon is a mystery in Lovecraft's stories. Its first appearance did not take place through the mention of its title, but through its fictional author and a fragment of content ( The Nameless City, published 1921). Lovecraft only hints at the content of the book in all of his stories and always describes it as "hideous, dangerous, monstrous" and forbidden.

While Lovecraft was scientifically and materialistically oriented and his stories reflect this, the use of the Necronomicon gave him a narrative "back door" to mysticism through which he could bring in his love of poetry and lively prose.

Chronology of Fiction at Lovecraft

George T. Wetzel believed that Lovecraft alluded to the Necronomicon as early as 1919 in the short story The Statement of Randolph Carter without explicitly naming it '. This assumption is probably wrong, since the aforementioned "diabolical book" was written neither in Arabic nor in any other language that Carter knew, but was written in characters that he had never seen before.

Note: The English-language originals are linked.

Reception during lifetime

Lovecraft was often confronted with questions about the fictional book and had to "confess" in many letters to the questioners that he had invented the Necronomicon . The book's appearance in the stories of other authors - Lovecraft's revision customers, where he used the Necronomicon as a joke - attracted a lot of attention . Later other authors also used Lovecraft's creations based on their correspondence with Lovecraft. The essay on the history of the Necronomicon was not published until after Lovecraft's death, but he communicated its content in fragments as early as 1927 in letters to his fellow writers and pen pals, such as Clark Ashton Smith. The impression of the actual existence of a Necronomicon is reinforced by Lovecraft by presenting the editions of the book in the novels as "rarities" that are owned only by very few libraries and by the fact that the content of the fictional Necronomicon is used by the protagonists in Lovecraft's works is taken very seriously.

Fictional story of the Necronomicon

The most important account of fiction is a short essay by HP Lovecraft from 1927, which was not published in general until 1938: History of the Necronomicon (English title: History and Chronology of the Necronomicon ). It briefly describes the history of the book, from the original author to medieval copies and translations to more modern editions, which are consulted or cited by the protagonists in its stories.

The "Arabic Original": Kitab Al'Azif

The original text of the Necronomicon is from Abdul Alhazred . It is Abdul Alhazred the name, already the Lovecraft at the age of five years as a pseudonym used alone after him by an elderly relative, because of his love for the Orient 1001 Nights had received suggested stories. For his history and chronology of the Necronomicon , Lovecraft devised a few more details of this figure:

Abdul Alhazred was a mad lyric poet from Sanaa , Yemen , who lived around AD 700. He researched the secrets of the advanced civilizations of Egypt and Babylon and for ten years wandered through the inner-Arab desert, which was to harbor many dangers and mysteries. He is said to have penetrated into the legendary Irem ( Iram ), the "city of pillars", and found the secrets and records of a culture that lived long before mankind under the ruins of a desert city . In his madness he didn’t care much for Islam but worshiped unknown beings whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu . After his wanderings he settled in Damascus , where he worked from around 730 AD on the manuscript of the Kitab Al'Azif - the book of the sums (Kitab = book; Al = der, die, das…; Azif = sums ), that is, of the sound that the desert demons make. Opinions are divided about its end or its disappearance in the year 738 AD. For example, Ebn Khallikan , a 12th century biographer - also a figure devised by Lovecraft who alluded to Ibn Challikan , a 13th century Arab biographer - tells that Alhazred was engulfed by an invisible horror in full daylight while the Witnesses of what was happening, paralyzed with fear, could only watch.

The Arabic "original version" or any copies were already lost in the 13th century , according to a comment in the foreword of the Latin translation . At the beginning of the 20th century, however, a copy is said to have appeared in San Francisco , but it was destroyed in a fire.

Note: This version of the Necronomicon was worked out by Lovecraft best of him only once - and then only in a revision history - mentioned ( The Last Test [dt. The last experiment ] for Adolphe De Castro).

The "Greek translation"

Lovecraft continues his story of the magic book in the European Middle Ages: It is said to have been passed around under the hand of the philosophers of that time. In 950 AD the azif was secretly translated into Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople . The famous title Necronomicon comes from him . There must have been several manuscripts that also accurately reproduced many of the illustrations and led to terrible experiments for a century until the Necronomicon was banned and burned by Patriarch Michael around 1050 . Lovecraft goes on to state that a version printed in Italy between 1500 and 1550 was destroyed in the fire of a certain person's library in Salem in 1692. Since then, no Greek version has been seen, except for rumors that the Pickman family owned a Greek edition from the 16th century, which, however, disappeared together with the artist RU Pickman in 1926.

The "Latin Translation"

In 1228, Olaus Wormius translated one of the Greek versions into Latin based on Lovecraft's fiction (a figure invented by Lovecraft who only has the name in common with the historical person Olaus Wormius ). Pope Gregory IX shortly after the publication of the Latin version 1232, banned both this and the Greek version. Lovecraft also reports of two printed editions of the Latin manuscript - first in 15th century Germany in Gothic script and then once in the 17th century in Spain. Neither version appears to have any special features and their origin and dating could only be determined from their typographies. According to Lovecraft's History and Chronology of the Necronomicon , a 15th-century edition is locked away in the British Museum , while the 17th-century print versions are in the French National Library in Paris , the Widener Library at Harvard , the Miskatonic University Library in Arkham and the Library of the University of Buenos Aires should be found. Another edition from the 15th century is said to be in the collection of a well-known American millionaire and there are said to be further copies hidden.

Comment: The manuscript by Olaus Wormius is said to have been extensively decorated with stylized woodcuts based on the examples of the Arabic original.

"English translation"

The English mathematician and astrologer John Dee is said to have translated the book into English in 1586. The translation was never printed and only survived in fragments.

Other key points from other authors

  • A French translation was made in the 13th century
  • In 1590 a Latin edition was printed in Cádiz
  • In 1670 Johann Lindemuth translated the Necronomicon into German under the title "Die Totenruf" [sic.]
  • In 1848 a publishing house in Ingolstadt published Friedrich Wilhelm von Junzts (1795–1840) posthumously a German translation of the Necronomicon under the title “Das Verichteraraberbuch” [sic.]
  • 1901 Joachim Feery published "Original Notes on the Necronomicon"
  • 1929 "The Oldest History of the World" is discovered, which was written by Beniamino Evangelista, where he to the Al Azif concerns
  • 1938: Doctor Laban Shrewsbury sends the manuscript for the first volume of his book "Cthulhu in the Necronomicon" for printing
  • 1956: Henrietta Montague translates the British Museum's Latin edition of the Necronomicon into English
  • 1969: The manuscript discovered by Wilfried Voynich in 1912 turns out to be a collection of notes on the Necronomicon

A large number of other cornerstones were invented by the authors of the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu .


Lovecraft invented a kind of demonic cosmology as well as magic instructions as the content of the Necronomicon . Accordingly, information about the Elderly Beings and their civilization at the time of the creation of the earth, about contortionists and various places of worship in the Middle East are included. In addition, the book reports on the cults of the gods Azathoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, Tsathoggua and Yog-Sothoth from the myth that the horror author placed at the center of his work. The Necronomicon not only deals with their origins and their history, but also contains numerous magic formulas and rituals to invoke these "old men".

The book is said to contain about 1000 pages full of encrypted hints and ambiguities in which various magical instructions are hidden. Most of the meanings and spells were lost with the various levels of fictional translations.

The Necronomicon contain:

  • Symbols,
  • Curses,
  • Hierarchy of demons,
  • List of rulers, generals, kings, military leaders,
  • Incantations,
  • Magic formulas,
  • Portals to other dimensions.

If this book falls into the hands of a person who has mastered the black arts, he could, with his help, command the demons and make use of their abilities. With the magic formulas it is possible for the magician to slip through portals into other dimensions and to bring the dead to life. But just reading this book could have devastating consequences.

Lovecraft's inspirations and some facts

The source for Lovecraft's creation is Lord Dunsany , a literary role model of Lovecraft. The Irish nobleman was known for his extraordinary interest in occult secrets and a confidante of the poet William Butler Yeats . Lord Dunsany wrote numerous fantastic stories based on an independent mythology. There is no question that he had a significant influence on the literary creation of the young Lovecraft. This is evidenced by an essay written by Lovecraft in 1922, in which he describes Lord Dunsany as "perhaps the most unique, original and imaginative among the authors currently alive".

The real Olaus Wormius lived in the 16th century. However, there are stories in which both the real Olaus Wormius and Olaus Wormius "the elder", ie Lovecrafts Wormius, are mentioned. The "older Wormius" was invented.

With the Necronomicon , Lovecraft was able to place his short stories in a common context and thus increase their eerie effect. Other fictional works such as the Pnakotische Manuscripts or real works such as the Daemonolatreia of Nicolaus Remigius from 1595 played a similar role. Lovecraft encouraged other authors to use his invention in their stories and in return used their fictional books (for example the Ponape script (after Lin Carter ), the Liber Ivonis / Livre d'Eibon / Book of Eibon (after Clark Ashton Smith ), von Junzt's Unspeakable Cults [sic!] (after Robert E. Howard ), the De Vermis Mysteriis by Ludvig Prinn and the Cultes des ghoules des Comte d'Erlette (both after Robert Bloch )) in his stories.

Continuation by other authors

A limited paperback edition Al Azif: The Necronomicon by Lyon Sprague de Camp , published in 1973 by Wildside PR, is intended to convey the impression of a mysterious handwriting written in a language called Duriac, as Sprague de Camp writes in the foreword. Even if the foreword warns against a translation or reading it out loud, on closer inspection the whole thing turns out to be fraudulent. Because the extraordinarily ornate characters, which are definitely reminiscent of the Arabic script , but even more of the Syrian alphabet , are so intertwined that untangling them seems almost impossible. Even more: The text turns out to be a repetition of text arcs of the book, so that basically only less than a third of the book can be seen as a continuous text, while in the other two thirds of the book this is only repeated several times. And this with a precision that only reproduction machines can achieve. The mystery here lies only in the effort of the writer, who had to muster up a lot of energy to keep a fictional writing through dozens of pages “in proper style”.

Mentions in pop culture

The Necronomicon is mentioned variously in novels, films, pop music and computer games. The following lists give some examples:


  • The Swiss painter HR Giger published two illustrated books under the title Necronomicon . Motifs from this were taken over for the science fiction film Alien - The uncanny creature from a strange world (1979), for which Giger also developed the figure of the aliens.
  • The Necrotelicomnicon (Liber Paginarum Fulvarum) is considered on the Discworld by author Terry Pratchett to be the most dangerous work on magic ever written.
  • An English version of the Necronomicon is available from Chaosium under the title Cultus Maleficarum , which is a copy by the fictional Baron Frederic of Sussex from a Latin version of the Necronomicon .
  • In the Illuminatus! -Roman by the authors Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson both the Necronomicon and Lovecraft play a role.
  • In the second part of the four-part Guardian novel series by Sergej Lukianenko ( Guardian of the Day ), the dark magician Edgar reads in the Necronomicon .
  • The German author Wolfgang Hohlbein uses the Necronomicon in his works on the Witcher of Salem .
  • In the trilogy Narrenturm - Gottesstreiter - Lux perpetua by the Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski , the Necronomicon is used alongside other magical books.

Movie and TV


  • Several bands like u. a. the Aachen progrock / Krautrock band Necronomicon (founded in 1972) and the German thrash metal band Necronomicon have named themselves after the Necronomicon or refer to one of the popular editions (usually a Simon or Hay edition), such as Morbid Angel and Absu . The band Andras claims to have borrowed their band name from one of these editions. In the video for The Faceless God by the black metal band Mørkriket, the Necronomicon plays a central role in the plot.
  • The American band Nox Arcana released an album in 2004 called Necronomicon .
  • The German indie band Tocotronic released the song Das böse Buch on their album of the same name in 2002 , in which the Necronomicon is mentioned.
  • The German medieval rock band Saltatio Mortis mentions the Necronomicon on the album Das Schwarze 101 in the song Abrakadabra

Computer games

  • The Necronomicon and the Cthulhu myth also play a central role in the PC adventure Prisoner of Ice .
  • In the computer game Max Payne , the protagonist comes across a table in Club Ragnarock on which, among other things, the Necronomicon is lying.
  • In the game Secret of Mana , the Necronomicon is represented as a flying book that attacks the player with magic.
  • In the computer game Dota 2 , the Necronomicon can be purchased as an item by a player.
  • In the computer game series The Binding of Isaac , the Necronomicon is a findable devil item.
  • In the computer game Crusader Kings 2 you can find the Necronomicon and thereby obtain certain properties.
  • In the computer game Kingdom Come: Deliverance you have to get the Necronomicon in a quest .
  • In The Simpsons Springfield , Mr. Burns reads an assignment from the book.
  • In the psychological horror game Moons of Madness , the Necronomicon plays a central role in the more or less scientific background of the events. The book is presented as a collection of cryptic formulas and diagrams.

Individual evidence

  1. a b Donovan K. Loucks: Mini-FAQ. In: The HP Lovecraft Archive. March 10, 2001, accessed April 23, 2011 .
  2. ^ Benseler's Greek-German school dictionary , 13th edition, edited by Adolf Kaegi , Teubner, Leipzig and Berlin 1911, p. 169.
  3. Name: Greek >> German. In: The language portal. Pons GmbH, accessed on April 29, 2011 .
  4. ^ A b Donovan K. Loucks: Quotes Regarding the Necronomicon from Lovecraft's Letters. In: The HP Lovecraft Archive. April 13, 2004, accessed April 23, 2011 .
  5. ^ Fritz Leiber, Jr .: A Literary Copernicus . In: Darrell Schweitzer (Ed.): Discovering HP Lovecraft . Revised & Expan. Wildside Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-58715-471-3 , pp. 16 (English).
  6. George Wetzel: Genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos . In: Darrell Schweitzer (Ed.): Discovering HP Lovecraft . Revised & Expan. Wildside Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-58715-471-3 , pp. 61 (English).
  7. Sunand T. Joshi, David E. Schultz: "Statement of Randolph Carter, The". In: An HP Lovecraft Encyclopedia , Hippocampus Press, Westport 2001, p. 251
  8. George Wetzel: Genesis of the Cthulhu Mythos . In: Darrell Schweitzer (Ed.): Discovering HP Lovecraft . Revised & Expan. Wildside Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-58715-471-3 , pp. 60-61 (English).
  9. ^ HP Lovecraft: Letter To Robert E. Howard . August 14, 1930 (English, Quotes Regarding the Necronomicon from Lovecraft's Letters ).
  10. ^ HP Lovecraft: Selected Letters II: 1925-1929 . Ed .: August Derleth , Donald Wandrei . Arkham House Publishers, Inc., Sauk City, WI 1968, ISBN 0-87054-029-7 , Letter to Clark Ashton Smith, November 27, 1927, pp. 201-202 ( text of the letter [accessed June 21, 2011]).
  11. ^ Fritz Leiber, Jr .: A Literary Copernicus . In: Darrell Schweitzer (Ed.): Discovering H. P. Lovecraft . Revised & Expan. Wildside Press, 2001, ISBN 978-1-58715-471-3 , pp. 14 (English).
  12. ^ De Camp : Lovecraft: A Biography . Ullstein, 1989, ISBN 3-548-36561-2 , pp. 20 .
  13. a b c H.P. Lovecraft: History and Chronology of the Necronomicon . In: Azathoth . Mixed fonts. tape 230 . Suhrkamp (English, original title: History of the Necronomicon .).
  14. ^ Dan Clore: HP Lovecraft: History of the Necronomicon. Retrieved April 29, 2011 . - In the edition of the "History of the Necronomicon" by Rebel Press the following sentence is added in brackets: "there is, however, a vague account of a secret copy appearing in San Francisco during the present century, but later perished in fire" - This seems to be a reference to Clark Ashton Smith's "The Return of the Sorcerer".
  15. ^ Donovan K. Loucks: Quotes Regarding the Necronomicon from Lovecraft's Stories. In: The HP Lovecraft Archive. March 10, 2001, accessed April 27, 2011 .
  16. ^ Stanley G. Weinbaum : The new Adam . Heyne Verlag, 1985, ISBN 3-453-30435-7 (English, original title: The New Adam . Originally. Ziff-Davis Pub. Co (1939)).
  17. ^ Gene Wolfe : Peace . Harper & Row, New York 1975, ISBN 978-0-06-014699-3 .
  18. Jared Lobdell : The Long-Lost Friend . In: The four corners of the tapestry: a casebook of Palmer Hopkins . : Pulpless.Com, Inc., Mill Valley, CA 1999, ISBN 978-1-58445-084-9 .
  19. ^ Robert Anton Wilson : Schrödinger's Cat Trilogy . Dell, New York 1979, ISBN 978-0-440-50070-4 .
  20. ^ Brian Lumley : Aunt Hester . In: The horror at Oakdeene and others . Arkham House, Sauk City, Wis. 1977, ISBN 978-0-87054-078-3 .
  21. ^ Brian Lumley : Name and Number . In: The compleat crow . WP Ganley, Buffalo, NY 1987, ISBN 978-0-932445-21-6 (first published in 1982 in Kadath magazine).
  22. ^ Colin Wilson : The Philosopher's Stone . JP Tarcher, Los Angeles 1969, ISBN 0-87477-509-4 .
  23. August Derleth : The House on Curwen Street . In: On Cthulhu's trail . Insel Verlag, 1972, ISBN 978-3-458-15815-8 (English, original title: The house on Curwen Street. In: The trail of Cthulhu (1962) . Translated by Rudolf Hermstein).
  24. Brian Lumley : The Rule of the Monsters . Pabel, Rastatt / Baden 1975, OCLC 74265242 (English, original title: The Burrowers Beneath . Translated by Helmut Pesch).
  25. ^ Colin Wilson : Return of the Lloigor . Village Press, London 1974, ISBN 0-904247-44-9 (first publication in: “Tales of the Cthulhu mythos”, Akham House (1969)).
  26. ^ Daniel Harms: The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia . Ender Signs Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-934501-05-4 , Appendix AC.
  27. ^ HP Lovecraft: Selected Letters, 1932-1934: Volume Four . Ed .: James Turner, August Derleth. Arkham House Publ Inc., 1976, ISBN 978-0-87054-035-6 . : mentions a section in Naacal on p. 984
  28. ANDRAS: Interview with the whole band. Retrieved October 27, 2009 .


  • Howard Philipps Lovecraft, History and Chronology of the Necronomicons , in: ders. Et al., Azathoth · Mixed writings · Selected by Kalju Kirde (Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1627, Fantastische Bibliothek 230), ISBN 3-518-38127-X , Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt a. M. 1989, pp. 298-299. - Original edition: HP Lovecraft, Beyond the wall of sleep (coll. By August Derleth & Donald Wandrei), Arkham House, Sauk City WI 1943.
  • Archentechtha, The Magical Secrets from the Necronomicon. From the legacy of the students of Abdul al Hazred , ISBN 3-938090-16-2 , Frank Jaspers Verlag, Bawinkel 2005.
  • Daniel Harms: The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia , Updated & Expanded Third Edition. Elder Signs Press, 2008 ISBN 978-1-934501-05-4 , Appendix A, B, C: pp. 341-358.
    Appendix A - Chronology
    Appendix B - Storage Locations
    Appendix C - Contents
  • Daniel Harms, John Wisdom Gonce III: The Necronomicon Files. The Truth Behind the Legend. Revised and Expanded Edition. Samuel Weiser Inc., 2003 ISBN 978-1-57863-269-5 .

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