After reading this tantalizing article in The Illuminerdy blog, I knew I had to look for Arkay Tilghman's small book The Secret History of the Necronomicon. The good news? this costs less tan two dollars and it's a fascinating read for anybody with interest in Lovecraft Mythos and Alhazredica. The downside for technophobes like me? It comes only as digital edition, so I was forced to read it in Kindle (fortunately it's short, because Kindle dulls my enjoyment of books so much I have dozens of potentially great reads gathering virtual dust because I just don't feel moved to read that way).
I was amazed by the information uncovered by Tilghman, but first and foremost, one must be thankful that his book is not a mere recording of cold facts and lukewarm speculations: while showing due care for straightforward, concrete data, bibliography and other sources, the small fifty-page book reads like an adventure worthy of any Mythos anthology, as the autor shares with us his discovery of ancient Egyptian records and episodes related to the Knights Templar, as well as adding new pieces to the puzzle of Dr. John Dee's obsessive work on the Necronomicon (a subject which has fed many a headache for me, as some of you may know).
However, what caused me a greater shock was the chapter dedicated to the life of Abdul Alhazred; several peculiar facts were mentioned and unexpectedly attributed to none other than biographer Ibn Khallikan! As readers of this blog know, I was not long ago thrilled to uncover here Ibn Khallikan's previously unpublished record of the life of the Sa'hir Majnun Alhazred. Imagine my amazement at finding out that this varying account was attributed to a full edition of Ibn Khallikan's work! Tilghman refers to Ebn (sic) Khallikan's The Life of Alhazred, Madman of the Empty Quarter, translated by Gene E. Matthews (Vermont, Fisher Press, 1921). I immediately set about tracking down this edition, and Matt Arnold, one of my contacts at Miskatonic University wrote back only today: "Paydirt! The book is listed in the private library of the Foundation. You know how they are, but at the Armitage Library we maintain a record of their acquisitions because they are handled by Professor Chandler in our staff, and it isn't in their restricted index, so I expect I'll be able to get a set of photocopies soon enough. Be patient! God knows I'm anxious enough to set my eyes on that piece. How is it that it differs so much from the version you published? It's likely that it's an apocryphal versión, you know; but it might also be that some copies were adulterated or cut down. I'm already getting permission to consult the fragmentary copy in our archives to compare the text as much as its frailty makes it possible."
Indeed, so many possibilities! And the Spanish publication of Ibn Khallikan is already slated for later this year, as part of a book (but I can't give out further details just yet) -I truly hope the Foundation people prove to be helpful (if you read this, gentlemen, pay no heed to Matt's quip about "the way you are!" he, he!).
What will come out of this? Stay tuned; I expect to have news very shortly.
(Also, I just corrected a few minor mistakes in my essay on Ibn Khallikan -why didn't anybody point out I'd uploaded the unfinished draft with ugly XX's in place of a couple of the dates in the notes? damn!)
...And furthermore, as soon as I posted this, somebody sent me a link to a Siyah Qalam's Kindle edition of Ibn Khallikan's Biography of Alhazred which appears to be a very different text! I'm Reading this right away. Just what's going on? Only a couple of years ago, the text seemed irretrievable; now, as many versions of it as there are published versions of supposed Necronomicons are jumping out of the woodwork!