Original title Al Azif - azif being the word used by the Arabs
to designate that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the
howling of daemons.
Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa('), in Yemen, who is
said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa
700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of
Memphis and spend ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia
- the Roba El Khaliyeh or "Empty Space" of the ancients - and "Dahna" or
"Crimson" desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by
protective evil spirits and monsters of death. Of this desert many strange
and unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have penetrated
it. In his last years Alhazred dwelt in Damascus, where the Necronomicon
(Al Azif) was written, and of his final death or disappearance (733 A.D.)
many terrible and conflicting things are told. He is said by Ebu Khallikan
(12th century biographer) to have been seized by an invisible monster in
broad daylight and devoured horribly before a large number of fright-frozen
witnesses. Of his madness many things are told. He claimed to have seen
the fabulous Irem, or City of Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins
of a certain nameless desert town the shocking annals and secrets of a
race older than mankind. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping
unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.
In A.D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable tho' surreptitious
circulation amongst the philosophers of the age, was secretly translated
into Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople under the title Necronomicon.
For a century it impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts, when
it was suppressed and burnt by the patriarch Michael. After this it is
only heard of furtively but (1228) Olaus Wornius made a Latin translation
later in the Middle Ages, and the Latin text was printed twice - once in
the 15th century in black-letter (evidently in Germany) and once in the
17th - (prob. Spanish) both in editions being without identifying marks
and located as to time and place by internal typographical evidence only.
The work, both Latin and Gr., was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232 shortly
after its Latin translation, which called attention to it.
Al Azif written circa 730 A.D. at Damascus by Abdul Alhazred Tr. to
Greek 950 A.D. as Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas Burnt by Patriarch
Michael 1050 (e.g. Greek text) Arabic text lost. Olaus translates Gr. to
Latin 1228 1232 Latin edit. and Gr. suppr. by Pope Gregory IX 14.. black
letter edit. printed in Germany 15.. Gr. Text printed in Italy 16.. Spanish
reprint of Latin text.
The Arabic original was lost as early as Wornius' time, as indicated
by his prefatory note; and no sight of the Greek copy - which was printed
in Italy bet. 1500 and 1550 - had been reported since the burning of a
certain Salem man's library in 1692. An original translation made by Dr.
Dee was never printed, and exists only in fragments recovered from the
original manuscript. Of the Latin texts now existing one (15th cent.) is
known to lie in the British Museum under lock and key, while another (17th
cent.) is in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris. A 17th cent. edition
is in the Widener Library at Harvard, and in the library at Miskatonic
University at Arkham. Also in the Univ. of Buenos Ayres (sic). Numberous
other copies probably exist in secret, and a 15th cent. one is persistently
rumoured to form part of the collection of a celebrated American millionaire.
A still vaguer rumour credits the preservation of a 16th cent. Greek text
in the Salem family of Pickman; but if it was so preserved, it vanished
with the artist R.V. Pickman, who disappeared early in 1926. The book is
rigidly suppressed by the authorities of most countries, and by all branches
of organized ecclesiasticism. Reading leads to terrible consequences. It
was from rumours of this book (of which relatively few of the general public
know) that R.W. Chambers is said to have devised the idea of his early
novel "The King in Yellow."