Dead Names, Dead Dog: The Story So Far, Part One

In 1922, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, a horror writer from Providence, Rhode Island, penned "The Hound." A ghastly little tale of supernatural vengeance inspired by Poe and Bierce, it centers around two amateur graverobbers who steal a mysterious amulet and are hounded – literally – by a supernatural dog-like presence. For this story, Lovecraft created a book called the Necronomicon, the work of the mysterious (and fictitious) Arab Abdul Alhazred.

Lovecraft grew dissatisfied with “The Hound,” referring to it later as a “dead dog,” but the Necronomicon did not meet the same fate. It turned up in his stories a number of times thereafter, and his friends put the book in their own fiction. After a while, readers were wondering whether the Necronomicon was real. Every time one of them wrote Lovecraft, he assured them that this was not true – he had made all of it up. This continued until his death in 1937.

By the Seventies, a number of different Necronomicons had appeared. The most notorious of these was what has become known as the Simon Necronomicon. This was first published in 1977 by Schlangekraft and in mass market paperback by Avon in 1980. According to one account by the mysterious monk known as "Simon", the book had appeared in 1972 through two monks, Steven Chapo and Michael Huback or Hubiak, who were later convicted of a series of book thefts from institutions across the eastern United States. (This is historical.) Upon examination, this book proved to be a ninth-century (maybe) Greek manuscript purporting to provide a Sumerian system of magic. "Simon" had this book “translated” and published.

"Simon" was later to release a spin-off work, the Report on the Necronomicon (1981; reissued in 1987 as the Necronomicon Spellbook). In addition, he also released a tape of a lecture made at the Magickal Childe bookstore in New York in 1981. (I am not distributing copies of it, so don’t ask. I may quote it in subsequent entries.) A further work, Gates of the Necronomicon, was never released.

Years later, while still an undergraduate at Vanderbilt, I was approached by John Wisdom Gonce III, who was concerned about the use of the book among small groups of teenage occult practitioners, for whom it served as a basis for a coercive ideology. This led to the publication of The Necronomicon Files (Night Shade Books, 1998; Red Wheel Weiser, 2003), in which the literary and occult background and effects of the book were described. As the Simon Necronomicon remains the most popular of the Necronomicon hoaxes, we put a great deal of effort into debunking its claims.That seemed to be the end of it…

…until, this March, Avon published "Simon"'s new book Dead Names. The infamous monk has emerged, after a quarter century of silence, to tell his story of how the Necronomicon came to be and mount a vigorous attack upon his critics – meaning, for the most part, John and I.

Published in: on June 5, 2006 at 9:52 am  Comments (1)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. […] Tonight’s question is very important:  If the Necronomicon did exist, was it stolen goods?  The tale of the two monks who stole it from an unknown collection has become part of the mythology surrounding the book that we’ve covered.  Tonight, we examine the truth with the help of those who were there. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s