On the Book of Compelling Hell
I came across a fascinating German folktale that has eerie echoes of the Necronomicon for any Lovecraft fan. The story tells of a book supposedly written by Doctor Faust, the scholar who sold his soul to the Devil for knowledge. The details are very similar to The Dunwich Horror, from the attempt to keep the book locked fast, to the way it can be used to summon a powerful entity from another dimension. Granted, Yog-Sothoth from beyond the spheres isn't exactly parallel to the Devil in the bowels of Hell, but the similarity is still fairly interesting.
I translate here directly from the German:
Faust’s Book of Compelling Hell (Höllenzwang)
In the church at Zellerfield, there lies secured by an iron chain the Book of Compelling Hell. It was written by Doctor Faust. Few are able to read it, and it is extremely dangerous to read. He who wishes to read it without losing his life must be able to read it forward and then backward. If you read it forward, then the Devil appears. If you read it backward, he vanishes again. If anyone reads the Book of Compelling Hell forward and cannot read it backward again, then the Devil will do the rest.
Source: Hermann Harrys, Volkssagen, Märchen und Legenden Niedersachsens, vol. 2 (Celle: Verlag von E. H. C. Schulze, 1840), 20.
11/7/2011 01:07:18 am
There was a news story a few months back about an incunabulum discovered in an attic in a small town in Arizona. It wasn't a grimoire or anything such but it's a neat idea, here it is, the 21st century, and mouldering tomes are still to be found in the most unlikely places. My favorite quote from the article is, "It passes the smell test."
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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