by • April 26, 2017 • Flash FictionComments (0)

Sympathy for a Mad Poet

Much about the book’s nature is lost to history, but legend has it that the author was Abdul Alhazred or possibly Abd Al-Azrad. The names mean ‘The Prohibitor of the Great Lord’ or ‘The Worshipper of the Great Devourer’ respectively.

Originally entitled al-Azif, it might have been lost to history after the mysterious death of the author if but for the work of Theodorus Philetas who translated it to Greek and gave it its now famous epithet. Philetas met his end in 1050 when both he and the copies of the book he created were burned by Patriarch Michael of Constantinople.

It all but disappeared until resurfacing in 1228 when it was translated into Latin by Olaus Wormius. However, it was banned by Pope Gregory IX and suppressed by the successive pontiff.  Despite being banned throughout the centuries it eventually made its way to the new world.

This particular volume sat, unrecorded and undistinguished, in a dusty corner of the Yale University library until a student recognized and promptly stole it. How it got there and remained undetected is a mystery to this day, but the young man was murdered shortly thereafter. I purchased it from his grandmother who was in charge of his estate.

The poor woman had no idea what it was. Or its worth.

But you, sir, obviously see its value.

See the author’s published work here.
Image courtesy of Abigail Larson.

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