Monday, March 5, 2012

ABANDON $ ALL YE WHO READ THIS DREAD NECRONOMICON


Those of you familiar with the weird fiction of H. P. Lovevcraft will know that among the varied devices he employed in efforts to add authenticity to his stories was the "dread Necronomicon of the Mad Arab Abdul-Alhazred". Well, this Necronomicon was supposed to be a book that contained the worst imaginable for the human race and anybody that attempted to use its power was destined for a bad end.

In 1977, a book appeared for sale published by Shlangekraft, Inc. that was purported to be a Greek version of the Necronomicon. While its contents is far afield from the abhorrent text that Lovecraft assumed, it nevertheless sent a ripple through the fantasy, science-fiction, and occult communities at the time of its publication. Controversy spread as to who this so-called "Simon" character was that wrote a lengthy introduction included in the book.


The Simon Necronomicon has been the subject of much speculation and discussion over the ensuing years. A supposed genuine copyright was tracked down that revealed the author -- or at least the person securing the rights -- was one, Peter Levenda. Levenda was an acquaintance of Herman Slater, who ran the Magickal Childe bookstore in New York. Some say it was Slater who was the author, and some maintain that it was a collaboration between the two. In any case, the books has enjoyed a rather enthusiastic cult following. A mass market paperback edition was published by Avon Books in 1980, and, like another blasted tome that sits near it in the "Metaphysical" section of your local bookstore, Anton Szandor La Vey's THE SATANIC BIBLE, I believe it has never gone out of print.

The Necronomicon has enjoyed an interesting, if exclusive, existence in films as well. It was Wilbur Whately's raison d'etre in AIP's THE DUNWICH HORROR (1970) and was an animated prop in Sam Raimi's EVIL DEAD series.

The book was originally published in hardcover in several editions, including a deluxe limited leatherbound edition, and was advertised in various "fringe" magazines such as HEAVY METAL and THE TWILIGHT ZONE magazine.


An ad for the clothbound edition of the NECRONOMICON.
From HEAVY METAL magazine.
As one might guess, these original editions have become collector's editions. Several years ago, I saw a copy in a display case at a local bookstore with a selling price of $800 (!). It was gone the next time I looked.

Shown here in today's post is a copy of the Necronomicon up for sale by Weiser Antiquarian Books, who distribute a catalogue every so often dealing with subjects of the occult and metaphysics. It is one of the original, Schlangekraft, Inc. limited edition leatherbound copies, with a price tag of $600. With a book in that range, why not have a bit of fun and charge an extra $66, I say!

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