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 Al-Hazred, 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 spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia - the
Roba al Khaliyeh, or "Empty Space" of the ancients and "Dahma" 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 a nd unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have
penetrated it. In his last years, Al-Hazred dwelt in Damascus, where the Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, and of his final death or disappearnce (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting thin gs are told. He is said by Ebn 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 hav e 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 deities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.
In A.D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable though surreptitious circulation amongst the philosphers 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 Olaus Wormius (1228) made a Latin translation
later in the Middle Ages, a nd the Latin text was printed twice - once
in the 15th century in blackletter (evidently in German) and once in the
17th (probably Spanish); both
editions being without identifying marks, and located as to time and place by internal typographic evidence only.
The work, both Latin and Greek, was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, shortly after its Latin translation, which called attention to it.
The Arabic original was lost as early as Wormius' time, as indicated by his prefatory note (there is, however, a vague account of a secret copy appearing in San Francisco during the present century but later perishing by fire); and no sight of the Greek c opy - which was printed in Italy between 1500 and 1550 - has been reported since the burning of a certain Salem man's library in 1692.
An English translation made by Dr. [John] Dee was never printed, and exists only in fragments recovered from the original MS.
Of the Latin texts now existing one (15th century) is known to be in the British Museum under lock and key, which another (17th century) is in the Bilbiotheque Nationale at Paris. A 17th century edition is in the Widener Library at Harvard, and in the Lib rary of Miskatonic University at Arkham; also in the library of the University of Buenos Aires.
Numerous other copies probably exist in secret, and a 15th century one
is persistently rumoured to form part of the collection of a celebrated
American millionaire. A still vaguer rumor credits the preservation of
a 16th century Greek text in the Salem fa mily of Pickman; but if it was
so preserved, it vanished with the artist R.U. Pickman, who disappeared
early in 1926. The book is rigidly suppressed by the authorities of most
countries, and by all branches of ornaised eccleciasticism. 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 derived
the idea of his early novel
The King in Yellow.