Books Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Geeks With Books
by Rick Klaw

Other Geeks With Books Columns
To discuss this column or other things Klaw...
For more information, you can try the following:
H.P. Lovecraft
"The Hound"
The Necronomicon
The "true" story (anti-FAQ) of The Necronomicon
Rebuttal to The Necronomicon anti-FAQ
Abdul Alhazred
Old Ones
Olaus Wormius
Spanish Inquisition
Dr. John Dee
Aleister Crowley
Book of Law
"The Nameless City"
Half Price Books Austin Collectibles Annex
Necronomicon Files
The Princess Bride
William Goldman
The Silent Gondoliers
The Princess Bride, 25th Anniversary Edition
The Book of Counted Sorrows
Dean Koontz
Koontz's statement about The Book of Constant Sorrows
Charnel House
Jan Harold Brunvand
Urban legends

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.
-- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Hound"
Necronomicon: The Wanderings of Alhazred by Donald Tyson 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.

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.

The Necronomicon: Or the Book of Dead Names by George Hay (Editor) 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.

Fragmentos Originales del Necronomicon by Marcelo Bigliano 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."

The Book of Counted Sorrows Necronomicon by Simon 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.

Vizzini: "Inconceivable!"
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, 25th Anniversary Edition The Silent Gondoliers 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.

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
to some midnight music
that only they can hear.
-- Stephen Crane, The Book of Counted Sorrows
The Book of Counted Sorrows 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.

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 indeed exist.

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

Copyright © 2004 Rick Klaw

Not content with just being a regular columnist for SF Site, Rick Klaw decided to collect his columns, essays, reviews, and other things Klaw in Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century (currently available from Monkey Brains, Inc). As a freelance editor, former book buyer, managing editor, and bookstore manager, Rick has experience with most aspects of the book business. Currently, he is an internet collectible sales specialist for Half Price Books, where he gets to actually fondle the books that are kept behind the glass. Am I just a character in some non-existent book?

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide