Necronomicon or Book Of The Dead
The Necronomicon is a fictional grimoire in the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. It was created by Lovecraft and is mentioned several times in his stories, most notably in the novella “The Call of Cthulhu”.
In the stories it is an ancient book bound in human flesh and written in blood that contains information on how to summon the Old Ones and other such monsters. It is also known as Al Azif, LibER Nigris and Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya.
Lovecraft was not very consistent with his use of the names for the book. The most commonly used name (The Necronomicon) actually came from Lovecraft’s friend and correspondent, fellow writer Clark Ashton Smith (who made a passing reference to it in one of his own stories), who Lovecraft then felt obliged to credit (as noted by Steven J. Mariconda, in his biography “H. P. Lovecraft: A Life”, pp. 284-285).
Other writers have used the title Necronomicon as a fictional grimoire for works of fiction, such as horror stories. In a few cases it has been used as a book for “Halloween” movies, such as in “Halloween II”, when Michael Myers reads from the Necronomicon before going on his killing spree.
A fictional Lovecraftian grimoire also appears in Alan Moore’s graphic novel The Courtyard (1996). It is presented as an actual book created by the London branch of the Freemasons, but was burned after their meeting that night. Interestingly, in later appearances of the book it does not have the title Necronomicon.
Cthulhu Mythos writer Lin Carter retitled it the “Kitab Al-Hikmah Al-Najmiyya” (meaning “The Book of Wisdom of the Stars”). The use of “Necronomicon” without quotes as a title has been criticized. However, Robert M. Price argues that this is preferable to using Lovecraft’s variant terms “Al Azif”, and “Liber Ivonis”, both being indiscriminate uses of quotation marks in reference to fictional books.
Price compares such usage with authors who have written literary criticism on Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Homer’s Odyssey, without quotation marks. He argues that if authors were to use actual names for such literary criticism, such as “A Treatise on the Divine Qualities of Hamlet” or “A Handbook on the Culture and Society of Homer and His Times”, it is unlikely readers would ever find such a work credible.
There have been many editions of the Necronomicon printed over the years, with different covers, titles and publishers.